Knee arthritis three times more likely after ACL surgery
People who have had reconstructive surgery for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries may develop a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in the injured knee than in the uninjured knee, according to new research.
Radiologists from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden examined X-rays of knees of people who had had ACL surgery 14 or more years ago. They found that 57 percent of ACL-reconstructed knees had developed arthritis, compared to 18 percent of the uninjured knees. It is important to note that no data analysis was done of people who had ACL injuries that were not repaired with surgery. Due to the lack of such a comparison group, the study couldn't confirm whether osteoarthritis risk is increased by ACL surgery or the ACL injury itself.
The researchers did note that all people who have had an ACL injury have some risk, since surgery does not restore 100 percent of the knee’s mechanics. They explained that when an ACL injury occurs, the knee joint loosens, which causes osteoarthritis—irreversible wear and tear of protective cartilage on the ends of bones.
The study’s results, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, suggested that it may take years following ACL reconstruction for osteoarthritis to develop. Researchers said that mkaes it that much more important that those who have such surgeries take preventive measures, such as rehabilitation and maintaining a healthy weight.