Generalised joint hypermobility leads to increased odds of sustaining a second ACL injury within 12 months of return to sport after ACL reconstruction

Br J Sports Med. 2023 Aug;57(15):972-978. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-106183. Epub 2023 May 16.


Objectives: To determine the 12-month risk of a second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in a population of patients with and without generalised joint hypermobility (GJH) who return to sports (RTS) at competition level after ACL reconstruction (ACL-R).

Methods: Data were extracted from a rehabilitation-specific registry for 16-50-year-old patients treated with ACL-R between 2014 and 2019. Demographics, outcome data and the incidence of a second ACL injury within 12 months of RTS, defined as a new ipsilateral or contralateral ACL, were compared between patients with and without GJH. Univariable logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards regression were performed to determine the influence of GJH and time of RTS on the odds of a second ACL injury, and ACL-R survival without a second ACL injury after RTS.

Results: A total of 153 patients, 50 (22.2%) with GJH and 175 (77.8%) without GJH, were included. Within 12 months of RTS, 7 (14.0%) patients with GJH and 5 (2.9%) without GJH had a second ACL injury (p=0.012). The odds of sustaining a second ipsilateral or contralateral ACL injury were 5.53 (95% CI 1.67 to 18.29) higher in patients with GJH compared with patients without GJH (p=0.014). The lifetime HR of a second ACL injury after RTS was 4.24 (95% CI 2.05 to 8.80; p=0.0001) in patients with GJH. No between-group differences were observed in patient-reported outcome measures.

Conclusion: Patients with GJH undergoing ACL-R have over five times greater odds of sustaining a second ACL injury after RTS. The importance of joint laxity assessment should be emphasised in patients who aim to return to high-intensity sports following ACL-R.

Keywords: Anterior Cruciate Ligament; Knee injuries; Sports medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability*
  • Middle Aged
  • Return to Sport
  • Sports*
  • Young Adult