After the lionesses enjoyed an extraordinary win in the UEFA cup final, women’s football has come deservedly under the spotlight. Helping to inspire young girls to take up the sport, it is only likely to become even more popular in the years to come.
However, like any sport, playing football at a professional level does come with risks. As England superstar Chloe Kelly knows only too well, female players are more at risk of suffering ACL tears.
So, what are ACL tears and why are female footballers particularly susceptible? Discover everything you need to know below…
What are ACL tears?
The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a thick band of tissue that aids in connecting the shin bone to the thigh bone. Tears to the ACL typically occur during sports that require sudden changes or stops in direction, such as football.
When a tear occurs, it can lead to excruciating pain, and you may find it difficult to put weight onto the knee. It can cause patients to be out of action for weeks or months depending upon how severe the tear is.
While ACL tears are known to affect athletes of all ages and sexes, female footballers are especially prone to developing them.
Why are female footballers more at risk of ACL tears?
Research has shown that female footballers are four to six times more likely to develop an ACL injury than their male counterparts. However, it hasn’t revealed the reason why this is.
It could be down to biological reasons, but there are also differences between the environments in which men and women play the game. For example, female players typically play on different surfaces, and have limited access to resources and equipment. They also don’t have the same level of access to professional healthcare as male players do.
Some limited research has shown that hormones could also play a role. The Oestrogen hormone has shown to increase the risk of injury, but again, further research needs to be done to clarify this.
ACL tears can keep players off the pitch for a full season, making it vitally important to address the risk.
Treatment for ACL tears
In the past decade, there has been significant improvements in the understanding and treatment of ACL injuries. Due to its location, an ACL tear can often fail to heal correctly. Partial tears are much more likely to heal by themselves compared to full tears.
For mild tears, patients may be able to fully heal with a period of rest. However, in many cases surgery will be required. The procedure aims to reconstruct the ACL, and it typically takes six weeks of recovery. However, this will vary between patients.
If you suspect you have an ACL tear, book a consultation with Mr Jonathon Webb today. After assessing your symptoms, he will create a treatment plan based upon your individual needs.