Dr. Johnson explains if it is common for young women to develop osteoarthritis.
That’s a common thing that we are just starting, we are just starting to get data back on. So if you look at females or women ACL tears, 30 years ago before Title IX, we just didn’t have as many females participating in collegiate sports. Once Title IX came, and in colleges there was an explosion of female sports in college, there was the trickle-down all the way down to the fifth grader.
You know, every family has a daughter that’s going to be the next Mia Hamm and play on the US Women’s Cup soccer team. So the number of ACLs that we’re doing in young females has exponentially increased, and people say, “Well, Darren, why is that? Why does that happen?” And we don’t know why, to be honest with you. We know for sure that more are participating; we do know that. We know more are participating yearlong; we do know that.
So now there are, another term we use, if you think about it, their exposure risk. So the amount of time they are playing sports, your 13-year-old daughter is now yearlong as opposed to two months. So all these young people are getting ACL surgery, and what our concern is, is what we are seeing, a lot of these female athletes that have the surgery, they obviously go back and play the sports. That’s why they are in our office having the surgery.
They are developing early signs of osteoarthritis in their 20s, something we are very concerned at with a profession because, in general, we don’t have a lot of great treatment options for osteoarthritis. I think in a 75-year-old, we perform an artificial knee. I think everybody has heard of that. In a 25-year-old, that is not an option to do an artificial knee in an arthritic knee.
So we have some work to do to figure out number one, in the female athlete, is there anything we can do to prevent these? That’s the first question anybody would ask, and we’re doing some stuff. We are trying to look at how females land, how they train, things they can do to prevent it.
We are also looking at techniques to develop maybe a better way to do your ACL, and that’s just an anatomic thing to prevent that arthritis. But our concern is we are seeing women in their 20s and 30s that now have this osteoarthritis because we did their ACL when they were 15.
About Dr. Johnson, M.D.:
Dr. Darren L. Johnson, M.D., received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles and his fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Dr. Johnson is currently Professor and Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Kentucky. His clinical interests include arthroscopy, knee and shoulder reconstruction and the double-bundle procedure for ACL repair.
Dr. Johnson was named among the Top Doctors for Women by Women’s Health magazine in 2008.