Injury Fact Sheet: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

By on November 13, 2012

Description:

Gray348-2The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments of the knee joint. It originates from a deep notch on the end of the femur and attaches to the tibia.

Dancers typically suffer fewer ACL injury than other athletes (Liederbach, Dilgen & Rose, 2008). The predictability of dance compared to competitive contact sports such as soccer, as well as the attention to alignment, balance, and control lend dancers a slightly reduced risk of experiencing an ACL injury. Nonetheless, they can occur and are usually traumatic in nature. ACL injury typically occurs in one of three ways: jump landings (especially in turn-out with a valgus stress on the knee), contact with another person, or excessive loading on the knee joint during a pivot or cutting movement.

Causes:

According to Kiapour & Murray (2014), most ACL injuries occur during deceleration of the body, typically in a sudden stopping or cutting movement. In a typical 90-minute class, a dancer could perform more than 200 jumps with forces sometimes amounting to 12-times the dancer’s body weight. Even so, dancers exhibit relatively low incidence of ACL injury compared to other athletes. In a comparison of 298 dancers over five years, female modern dancers were at a higher risk for injury than male modern dancers or ballet dancers of either gender. The majority of injuries tended to occur toward the end of a performance season and late in the day, suggesting that fatigue and inattention to alignment may play a role. Modern dance has a higher degree of improvisation, which may also contribute to an increased risk for injury compared with ballet dancers (Liederbach, Dilgen & Rose, 2008). ACL injury can occur in conjunction with medial collateral ligament and/or meniscus injuries.

Treatment:

A tear of the ACL often requires surgical reconstruction. In a follow-up study of 6 dancers who underwent reconstructive surgury, all of them felt insecurity in landing from jumps and have retired from professional performance (Meuffels & Verhaar, 2008).

Of Note:

Care should be taken to prevent fatigue in a dancer’s training schedule and paying attention to jump landings, specifically to over-rotation of the supporting leg (placing excessive valgus stress on the knee) and pronation of the foot.

Further reading:

** Note: Fact sheets are compiled from peer-reviewed resources, and is intended for reference only.  For a complete list of references, click here.  In the event of an injury, seek advice from a licensed health professional.  The original content of this site is protected by copyright and may be shared, but not be republished without permission.  For full disclaimers and disclosures, visit our policies.

 



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