Dr. Riley Williams was recently highlighted for his surgical skills, repairing an ACL.

In this video, courtesy of CNN, Meredith Speck, a patient of Dr. Williams, is part of a growing list of female sports athletes who are sustaining ACL injuries on the soccer field. Dr. Williams was proud to be featured in this video (at :39) performing her ACL operation.

Women’s Soccer is one of the sports that has all the makings of an ACL injury waiting to happen, especially in females since they are 3-4 times more likely to experience this injury than their male counterparts.

Why are women more susceptible to ACL tears?

Here are a few reasons, outlined in the video:

  • Hormones:

    • Female hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone and relaxin can all have an effect on the laxity, or stretchiness of all ligaments in the body, not just in the knee. For female soccer players, this becomes important because the looser the ligament, the more likely it is to stretch under pressure, this limits the stability of the knee and can allow the tibia to slide out in front of the femur.
  • Femoral Notch:

    • The femoral notch, where the ACL is located, is genetically more narrow in females and in males. This narrow space makes the ACL more prone to injury because the knee ligament can be pinched between the femur and the tibia.
  • ACL is Smaller:

    • Men genetically have a larger, stronger ACL
  • Greater Q-Angle:

    • A greater Q-Angle (as shown in the video) allows almost a knock-kneed appearance for women, which makes the ACL more vulnerable to injury.

How can women help prevent an ACL injury or tear?

Strengthening and conditioning in the correct way is important in keeping a healthy ACL. As the video shows, a focus on strengthening the hip and thigh muscles can provide stability to the knee and prevent injury. Body mechanics are also an important aspect of a healthy knee, especially when learning to land, pivot or change directions. Finally, a proper warm up and cool down period can help keep the knee and its surrounding muscles in good health.