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Reducing ACL arthritis in youth

Doctors perform surgery on ACL tears, which helps prevent recurrent injuries, but say they’ve not yet solved the problems related to post-traumatic osteo-arthritis.

BALTIMORE — About 200,000 people will suffer an excruciating injury each year, known as an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL tear. An orthopedic surgeon explains how this serious injury can sometimes cause arthritis in young people, slowing them down and creating additional pain. 

When playing sports like football and soccer, the human knee sometimes takes it on the chin. Young people involved in sports often suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury, more commonly known as an ACL injury. 

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John-Paul Rue, MD, a Mercy Medical Center orthopedic surgeon, explained, “In this particular situation, there’s been an injury that has happened to the cartilage, sort of, the soft lining of the ends of the bones, and that injury, over time, progresses.” 

Doctors perform surgery on ACL tears, which helps prevent recurrent injuries, but say they’ve not yet solved the problems related to post-traumatic osteo-arthritis. 

“One of the devastating problems with an ACL injury is that it typically happens in a younger patient. Arthritis developing after an injury in a young person, because of their longevity, because of their lifespan,” Dr. Rue added. 

The joint narrows and can reach the painful point where it actually is bone-on-bone, making rehab, or even joint replacement necessary. 

Dr. Rue mentioned, “One of the newer modalities is blood flow restriction. And the idea of that is, essentially, a tourniquet around the leg or the arm to, basically, allow blood flow to kind of collect in that leg to allow the muscles to strengthen more efficiently.” 

Dr. Rue said a qualified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ACL reconstruction surgery is the only person who should perform this procedure on the patient. 

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor. 

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