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Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Oct;50(10):3145-52.

High prevalence of knee osteoarthritis, pain, and functional limitations in female soccer players twelve years after anterior cruciate ligament injury.

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Lund University, Lund, Sweden.



To determine the prevalence of radiographic knee osteoarthritis (OA) as well as knee-related symptoms and functional limitations in female soccer players 12 years after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.


Female soccer players who sustained an ACL injury 12 years earlier were examined with standardized weight-bearing knee radiography and 2 self-administered patient questionnaires, the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score questionnaire and the Short Form 36-item health survey. Joint space narrowing and osteophytes were graded according to the radiographic atlas of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International. The cutoff value to define radiographic knee OA approximated a Kellgren/Lawrence grade of 2.


Of the available cohort of 103 female soccer players, 84 (82%) answered the questionnaires and 67 (65%) consented to undergo knee radiography. The mean age at assessment was 31 years (range 26-40 years) and mean body mass index was 23 kg/m2 (range 18-40 kg/m2). Fifty-five women (82%) had radiographic changes in their index knee, and 34 (51%) fulfilled the criterion for radiographic knee OA. Of the subjects answering the questionnaires, 63 (75%) reported having symptoms affecting their knee-related quality of life, and 28 (42%) were considered to have symptomatic radiographic knee OA. Slightly more than 60% of the players had undergone reconstructive surgery of the ACL. Using multivariate analyses, surgical reconstruction was found to have no significant influence on knee symptoms.


A very high prevalence of radiographic knee OA, pain, and functional limitations was observed in young women who sustained an ACL tear during soccer play 12 years earlier. These findings constitute a strong rationale to direct increased efforts toward prevention and better treatment of knee injury.

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