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Health Spotlight: Reducing arthritis after ACL injuries in youths

(WISH) — An ACL injury can mean more than knee surgery.

The injury can also cause lifelong pain to linger in the form of arthritis.

About 200,000 people each year will suffer an excruciating injury known as an ACL tear.

An orthopedic surgeon says the serious injury can sometimes cause arthritis in young people, slowing them down and creating additional pain.

When playing sports like football and soccer, the human knee sometimes takes it on the chin. Young people involved in sports often suffer the ligament injury. Dr. John-Paul Rue of the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore says that “in this particular situation, there’s been an injury that has happened to the cartilage, sort of, the soft lining of the ends of the bones, and that injury, over time, progresses.”

Doctors perform surgery on ACL tears, which helps prevent recurrent injuries, but say they’ve not yet solved the problems related to post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

Rue said, “One of the devastating problems with an ACL injury is that it typically happens in a younger patient. Arthritis developing after an injury in a young person because of their longevity, because of their lifespan.”

The joint narrows and can reach the painful point where it actually is bone-on-bone, making rehab, or even joint replacement necessary.

Rue said, “One of the newer modalities is blood flow restriction, and the idea of that is essentially a tourniquet around the leg or the arm to, basically, allow blood flow to kind of collect in that leg to allow the muscles to strengthen more efficiently.”

Allowing the patient to get a more robust workout and reducing the risk for arthritis.

Rue says a qualified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ACL reconstruction surgery is the only person who should perform this procedure on the patient.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.