On February 5, U.S. Olympic champion skier Lindsey Vonn suffered a serious knee injury when she crashed at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria. According to a team doctor, her complex orthopedic injuries involve a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, and a lateral tibial plateau fracture.
The ACL, short for anterior cruciate ligament, and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are two of the four major knee ligaments crucial to knee stability. The majority of ligament tears occur during sports-related activities, such as pivoting or landing after a jump.
Interestingly, this type of injury affects women significantly more than men. Research indicates female athletes have a rate of ACL tears three to 10 times that of their male counterparts. The reason for this disparity is unclear. Theories suggest that because women have weaker hamstrings relative to their quad muscles, female hamstrings allow the ACL to be torn more easily. Other theories include a difference in landing position between the sexes, and hormonal influences. For female athletes, the good news is that injury rates can be greatly decreased with a regular conditioning program that includes warming up, stretching and strengthening.
Ms. Vonn will be out for the rest of the ski season, but plans to return next year for the World Cup and the 2014 Winter Olympics. Our orthopedic surgeons in Fort Lauderdale wish her a successful recovery! For questions about ACL tears, treatment or recovery, call Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine today at (954) 400-5544.