Q. My daughter plays basketball and volleyball, and it seems like meniscus tears have become more common. Is there anything she can do to prevent this injury?
A. Injuries to the meniscus appear to be the most common knee injury across all age groups. Acute meniscal tears occur in approximately 1 out of 1,600 people, with the incidence in females being 2.5 times more likely than in males. Sports like volleyball and basketball that involve a lot of compression and twisting of the knee result in a higher risk of meniscal injury. Traumatic stress to the meniscus occurs during any activity that requires jumping and landing, pivoting, cutting, and decelerating. There is no way to completely eliminate all risk of meniscal injury; however, there are certain things one can do to lessen the impact on the knee and thus reduce their risk of meniscal tear.
Preventive recommendations include:
1. Take time to learn the proper techniques to cut, pivot, decelerate and land from a jump.
2. Train and strengthen the leg muscles that protect the internal structures of the knee from undue mechanical stress; include the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles.
3. Focus on endurance training appropriate for your sport to avoid fatigue, which often predisposes an athlete to injury.
4. One should wear the appropriate footwear for the chosen sport and playing surface.
Chad Smalley, M.D.
Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics
Main Office, 2415 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404