Is It Common to Tear Your ACL Twice?

Skier Lindsey Vonn tore her ACL twice. She is just one well-known athlete who had this occur, however, she continued her sterling career. Yes, it can happen, but common is a relative term. We will look at how common it is, why it occurs, and how to prevent it from happening to you.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

An ACL injury is a serious one for any athlete, professional or recreational. There are 200,000 first time ACL surgeries performed every year. The highest rate of ACL ruptures happen to young athletes who participate in sports involving cutting and pivoting like basketball, skiing, and soccer.

The orthopedic surgeons at Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic have extensive experience diagnosing and treating ACL injuries. Contact our orthopedic clinic in Arlington, VA today and request an appointment online using our secure form.

Reducing Your Chance of Re-injury

If you suffer an ACL tear, reducing your chance of re-injuring yourself should be of paramount importance. The risk of re-tearing the ACL is 5%, but with many exceptions.

There are several ways to limit the possibility of re-injury:

  • Follow all recommendations provided by our orthopedic surgeon post surgery
  • Carefully adhere to the physical therapy rehab protocols
  • Do not engage in any high impact activities that will put stress on your knee
  • Talk with one of our orthopedic surgeons about the use of a knee brace
  • Do not engage in any sport without first getting your doctor’s clearance

Premature return to play is the number one reason a re-injury occurs. 

Those who return to a sport less than 8 months after surgery increase the risk of re-injury. It will take at least 8 months of rehab to return to pre-injury level of play, and sometimes a full year. This depends on the age of the patient, the severity of the injury, and the activity level of the sport. These factors can increase the risk of re-injury.

In addition, it’s important to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, and glutes that surround the knee to lessen the risk of re-injury

Contralateral Injuries

Contralateral injuries are injuries to the other uninjured knee after ACL surgery. The risk of injuring the other knee increases as rehab continues. So it’s a Catch 22. 

Patients and the PT team focus on rehabilitating the injured knee with the good knee carrying the load. Fatigue and weakness increases as rehab progresses, and at the very time the patient is ready to return to sports, the good knee may be worn out and susceptible to injury.

Focusing on strength and function of the good knee as the patient returns to full sport will decrease this possibility.

ACL Re-injuries for Younger Athletes in High Risk Sports

Lastly, individuals who return to a high-risk sport and those of a younger age are at risk for ACL re-injury. Almost one-fourth of individuals who are of a younger age (<20-25) and return to a high risk sport that involves pivoting and cutting will either re-injure the reconstructed ACL or injure the opposite side.

Based on current research, the majority of these secondary injuries occur in the knee that has not undergone previous surgical intervention.

Contact Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic at (703) 892-6500 if you suspect you have injured your ACL or would like a second opinion in Arlington, VA.