Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury occurs at a much higher rate in women than in men. New research suggests that menstrual cycle phase and use of oral contraceptives ? two frequently-mentioned correlates for ACL tears in female athletes ? may not, in fact, explain the higher rate of ACL injury in women versus men.
Scientists had female and male athletes perform three high-risk jumping and landing tasks and measured the impact on their knee and hip joints. They collected data during each phase of the women’s menstrual cycles and on their use of oral contraceptives. Males served as control subjects.
The jumping and landing activities showed no biomechanical differences that could be related to menstrual cycle. “The results show that hormone cycling in women does not appear to affect either the knee joint or hip joint during jumping and landing,” writes lead author Ajit M. W. Chaudhari, PhD, of the Ohio State Sports Medicine Center, Columbus, OH. “Moreover, the use of an oral contraceptive does not appear to affect joint loading.” Factors such as fatigue, differences in neuromuscular coordination, or ligament properties may better explain why females suffer more ACL injuries than males.
(Co-authors’ institutions: Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation, OH; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; Veteran’s Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, OH; University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH.)