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Braves’ Chipper Jones is Planning on Returning After ACL Surgery

38 year old third baseman, Chipper Jones, tore is ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) on Tusday night’s game, when he fielded a grounder near third base, jumped in the air while making the throw, and then collapsed to the ground.  

Watch the video at http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx?id=8c69bc10-d3dc-44eb-b625-468bb2ebaf48.

Will he be able to return next year?

ANATOMY

The knee is a complex joint, with four main ligaments that stabilize the joint: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tear, and the medial collateral ligament (MCL).  Together, these four ligaments help to stabilize the knee in all planes of motion.

The ACL stabilizes the knee and prevents it from “giving out,” particularly when twisting or bending on the knee.

CAUSES

An ACL tear is usually seen in the athlete during sporting activities, but it can happen with other mechanisms, such as motor vehicle accidents and falls. Usually these injuries are “non-contact” injuries, occurring when the athlete lands on the knee after jumping.  The pivoting or twisting of the knee stresses the ACL and causes it to tear.

Female athletes are at a higher risk of developing an ACL tear.  It is not enirely clear why this is the case.  However there are thoughts that the anatomical differences in a woman, hormones, or even biomachanical differences in a female versus a male may account for this higher risk.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

If you believe you have an ACL tear, you should seek medical attention immediately.

SIGNS

When one tears the ACL, there is usually a pop that is heard with sudden pain in the knee. There may be swelling of the knee (effusion), black and blue discoloration, knee stiffness, or the feeling of instability.  The individual may have difficulty walking on the knee.  An MRI can diagnose the ACL tear and any other injuries of the knee.

TREATMENT

Not all individuals with ACL tears require surgery.  If there are symptoms of instability of the knee or if one is a high level athlete, then the surgery would be preferred.  If you do not fall into any of these categories, then a knee brace, followed by extensive physical therapy can be used to treat these injuries.

Surgical reconstruction of the ACL can be performed in a variety of different ways.  The ACL can be reconstructed with the patients own tisssues (autograft) or tissues from a person who has died (allograft).  Autograft reconsturction may require harvesting the “new” tendon from either the patellar tendon or the semitendinosus tendon (one of the hamstring tendons).  Different techniques can also be used to reconstruct the tendon, such as single bundle or double bundle techniques.  These discussions are beyond the scope of this blog.

Rehabilitation is critical to the success of surgical or non-surgical treatments for ACL tears.

OUTCOMES

In 2005, we presented data on NFL athletes with ACL injuries.  Of the 31 running backs and wide receivers with 33 anterior cruciate ligament injuries, more than one fifth of players never returned to a National Football League game. Returning players first competed in a game 55.8 ± 5.4 weeks (mean ± standard error) after injury. For the 24 anterior cruciate ligament–injured players with a minimum total power rating (sum of all 7 seasons) of 200 points, power rating per game played decreased from 9.9 ± 1.1 preinjury to 6.5 ± 0.9 postinjury. This decline in power rating per game played was statistically significant (P = .002) when compared with the change for the 146 control players.  http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/34/12/1911.abstract

RETURN TO ACTIVITIES

If we use the above study as a guideline for the return to professional sports, it is likely that Jones will be back on the field somewhere between February and April of 2011.  He will need a lot of work and rehabilitation in order to return to his pre-injury level.

VIDEO/ANIMATIONS

For a video animation of “ACL Reconstruction”, please see the “Education” tab of my website.  Click orthopaedics, then knee, then procedures, then “ACL Reconstruction”.

Good luck Chipper.

Dr. P

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All material published through this blog/website is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Dr. Parekh and Duke University will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the discussions in this blog.

 

 

Locations

  • N.C. Orthopaedic Clinic
  • Durham Regional Hospital
  • Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Duke Hospital North
  • Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center

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