New research may show why specific patients are at a greater risk of developing arthritis following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery.
According to a report published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, the investigation discovered that those who put less weight and force on their reconstructed knee after surgery are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Here, we look at the latest research and what you need to know before undergoing ACL surgery.
What is ACL surgery?
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery is a procedure to replace the ACL. The surgery is recommended for individuals who have sustained an ACL injury, with the aim of restoring knee function.
The ACL connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, providing stability to the knee. When the ligament is torn or sprained, the damaged tissue can be replaced with a graft through the ACL reconstruction procedure. The graft typically comes from another tendon in the knee and is inserted using minimally invasive keyhole surgery.
However, not all cases of ACL injury require surgery, and treatment options may vary based on the extent of the damage and the individual’s overall health.
Study shows a link between contact force and joint degradation
A recent study examined 46 patients who underwent ACL surgery, analysing the impact of joint loading on the development of patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis after the operation.
The amount of contact force placed on the joint was calculated by measuring trunk and lower limb kinematics alongside ground reaction forces during hops. Joint magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were taken five years after the surgery for 32 participants.
They revealed that individuals with lower contact force during hopping had a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis one year after surgery. They also had an increased risk of developing more severe osteoarthritis up to five years after the operation.
The study also found that lower body weight was associated with less contact force on the joint, decreasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Risks of developing knee arthritis present even before ACL surgery
Interestingly, the risk of patients developing knee arthritis is prevalent even before ACL surgery. Researchers report a high concerning prevalence of osteoarthritis among younger patients with ACL rupture. In fact, among the youngest group, with a median age of 22 years, 30% developed knee OA within five years of their injury.
The risk of developing knee arthritis with or without surgical treatment must be addressed with early intervention treatments.
If you have suffered an ACL injury and want to determine whether surgery is the right treatment option, book an appointment with Mr Jonathon Webb today. He will talk you through the potential risks, helping to determine if surgery is the right option.