Sports-related knee injuries in young athletes has jumped more than 400 percent in the last 12 years according to research presented this month at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.
According to a press release from the AAP:
In “Knee Injuries In Children and Adolescents: Has There Been An Increase In ACL and Meniscus Tears In Recent Years?” researchers reviewed billing records of patients under age 18 treated for tibial spine fractures, ACL and meniscal tears, at a large academic children’s hospital from 1999 through 2011. Over that time period, ACL tears increased by 11.35 injuries per year and meniscus tears increased by 13.95 injuries per year. However, tibial spine fractures, which are thought to be caused by a similar mechanism as ACL tears, only jumped by 1.07 injuries per year.
While the exact cause of this growth in sports-related knee injuries is unclear, increased diagnosis, earlier referral and more aggressive treatment may contribute to these rising numbers, according to the study abstract.
Says J. Todd Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., orthopaedic surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and primary investigator of the study,
"Our study confirmed our hypothesis that, at least at our large academic pediatric hospital, knee injuries are an ever-growing problem for children and adolescents involved in sports."
What isn't clear from the press release is if the increase is a result of a higher rate of knee injuries or a higher number of kids playing sports.