The impact of cruciate ligament rupture on osteoarthritis of the knee

As many professional athletes know, tears of the cruciate ligaments the two ligaments that in the knee that keep it stable can lead to short-term as well as long-term problems, including severe osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Rupture of the front or anterior cruciate ligament is, in fact, known to provoke premature knee OA. However, much about the relationship between knee OA and cruciate ligament damage is still unknown, especially its impact in ordinary individuals with OA as opposed to athletes or people with known knee injuries.

Recently, a team of researchers set out to investigate the prevalence of anterior and posterior cruciate ligament tears among middle-aged and elderly patients with symptomatic OA, as well as the effect of such tears on disease progression and pain. Their findings, published in the March 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), indicate anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture as a widely under-recognized and under-treated factor in knee OA.

The study focused on 360 patients with advanced, painful knee OA, recruited through the cooperation of Boston University Medical Center and the Boston Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Just over 66 percent were male, and the mean age was 67 years. An additional 73 patients, similar in age and sex, were recruited to serve as controls. Of the controls, 48 had knee OA, confirmed by radiographs, but no pain, and the remaining 25 had no OA symptoms or knee discomfort. Overall, the case group tended to have a slightly higher body mass index (BMI) than the control groups.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the prevalence of cruciate ligament tears in all groups. Rupture of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) was extremely rare, found in less than one percent of the case group and none of the controls

Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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