Correlation between ACL tears and knee osteoarthritis


(c) Netter

If you play sports, ski, play football… if you walk your dog…if you walk on ice while getting your mail…chances are you are putting yourself at risk for an injury. Life has a funny way of leveling you when you least expect it. 

If you suffer a traumatic event affecting your knee, you may fear the announcement: you’ve torn your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The bonus: there are many ways to manage this damage.

The real problem is: what happens to your knee 5…10…15 years down the road?

The warning has come from professionals in the sports medicine and ortho world, including me: do your absolute best to keep that leg mobile, strong and out of trouble…because the clock is ticking. Your knee is now at a significantly higher risk for developing knee osteoarthritis (OA). Starting…now.

There is a new article by Barenius, et al. published this month in the American Journal of Sports Medicine ( that identifies (again) that the long term (14 yr) follow up on knee OA prevalence after an ACL tear and reconstruction. 

ARTICLE CONCLUSION: A 3-fold increased prevalence of OA was found after an ACL injury treated with reconstruction compared with the contralateral healthy knee. No differences in the prevalence of OA between the BPTB and quadrupled ST reconstructions were found. An initial meniscus resection was a strong risk factor for OA; the time between injury and reconstruction was not.

This is not to say that surgery increases the risk for knee OA. Depending on the type of injury, it can be due to bone bruising from the initial mechanism of injury. 

Take home message: the best medicine is prevention; preferably before a traumatic injury, but equally important is the after-care and ongoing maintenance to maintain the tissue strength, mobility, stability and vitality. 


Read more here: American Journal of Sports Medicine (