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ACL Injuries on the Rise in Teen Athletes

ACL Injuries on the Rise in Teen Athletes
Studies show more young athletes are suffering injuries to their knees.

All this week, WFUV News is looking at a concerning trend affecting baseball players of all ages, from Little League to Major League Baseball. Today, we shift gears and look at an injury affecting young athletes in all different kinds of sports. 

Research shows more teen baseball players are having arm problems and needing elbow surgery, but there's another serious injury impacting young athletes in multiple sports. 

Studies show more teens are having knee injuries and needing to go under the knife. The most common issue for athletes is tearing the ACL, the ligament inside the knee joint that connects the thigh and shin bones. 

Dr. Frank Cordasco, a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, calls the rise of knee injuries in teens an epidemic. 

"When I started training twenty years ago, having a kid come in with an ACL injury was unheard of," Cordasco said. "Now, we are seeing it a couple of times per week."

Doctors have attributed the increase in knee injuries to multiple factors, but they have said the main reason for the concerning trend is fatigue. 

"I see a lot of young athletes who've torn their ACLs, essentially blow out their knee, primarily because they've been playing sports year-round," Cordasco said. "There's a whole host of factors related to [knee injuries] and fatigue is probably the most significant one."

For some young athletes, recovery from knee surgery can take between a year and 18 months. Cordasco said if a young athletes injuries his or her knee, its important to stay off the leg and see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the knee. 

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