This study indicates that athletes at risk of ACL injury should be assessed via a simple scoring system for increased joint laxity.
Training programmes should be specially focused on protecting such individuals from ACL injury.
Chronic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) insufficiency can cause damage to the other structures of the knee like articular cartilage and thus early degenerative arthritis, meniscal tears, and stretching of secondary stabilisers such as collateral ligaments. Various risk factors for ACL tears have been known. These include excessive demands on unconditioned knees, knee flexion angle during landing, limb alignment, notch size, and hormonal fluctuations. Joint laxity is also considered a contributor. Its prevalence is higher in females and in Africans (than Caucasians) and decreases with age.
Relevance of the study
Joint hypermobility may be acquired through repetitive training. Neuromuscular training is effective in increasing performance and preventing injuries in athletes. Strong muscles stabilize the knee joint. Training leads to superior muscle development and improved proprioception, which may reduce strain on ligaments surrounding the joint. Muscle training improves the stability of hypermobile joints and reduces the risk of ligament tears. Sportscoaches and health professionals should be trained to use the Beighton score to screen individuals with hypermobility and advise them prophylactic musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
Joint laxity & the Beighton Score
The Beighton Score is a simple 9-point scoring system for joint laxity that can easily be applied. Athletes scoring 4 or more out of nine can be considered as having an increased risk of ACL injury during sporting activities:
Vaishya R, Hasija R. Joint hypermobility and anterior cruciate ligament injury. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery. 21(2):182-4;2013.