Doc: ACL Tears Aren’t ‘Overuse’ Injuries

CHICAGO — It was fun while it lasted — well, maybe not fun, really, but debating Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau‘s decision to have Derrick Rose in the game with a 12-point lead and 80 seconds left gave disappointed Chicagoans a way to vent and eventually accept the miserable news that Rose’s postseason was over, popped with the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Others jumped to the conclusion that the NBA’s compressed 66-game season was responsible for that (though Rose only played in 39) and New York guard Iman Shumpert’s similar ACL blowout the same day.

Most of those in and outside the league who staked out strident positions don’t even play doctors on TV. But finally, a real expert weighed in that should snuff the blame game once and for all. An authority on ACLs and sports injuries assured the Associated Press that Rose’s or Shumpert’s setback had little to do with their workload that day or this season.

“There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we’ve ever studied,” Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday.

Rose, last season’s MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago’s Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks’ Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule.

Boston center Jermaine O’Neal, whose season ended early after wrist surgery, wrote on his Twitter page that it was a “clear sign” of fatigued bodies from a condensed season, writing “2 torn acl injuries to key players!”

But Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament.

“In fact, I think if you’re tired, you’re a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you’re not going to be as explosive,” said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA.

The NBA has responded to most questions about what seems like a greater frequency of injuries this season by assuring reporters that data will be gathered and studied. The league has suggested that, with an increase in games from 14 to 16 per month, much of the attention has been driven by players missing game days — and the media coverage that generates — rather than sitting out a practice or off-day.

Players have talked about the lack of recovery time, and many dealt with the types of injuries — sprains, strains, muscle fatigue — that could have been triggered by heavy usage and limited rest. But Altchek said ACL tears really can’t be prevented and, when resulting from a non-contact play, often occur in the strongest, most fit players. The NBA has had four ACL blowouts this season: Rose, Shumpert, Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and Oklahoma City’s Eric Maynor.

So Thibodeau should be off the hook officially. Which won’t make many Bulls fans feel much better, but might lighten the guilt or anger load.


  1. BlowJob says:

    F men lakers all the way , lakers vs heat on june …

    • Jan says:

      Would love to see the Heat lose vs Lakers in the finals, no ring for “LeBron teh FlopMaster” pls…

  2. dre says:

    we go be fine remember we won alot of games without our allstar unlike the heat we have a strong bench go bulls

  3. tod kirk says:

    I quess adding more fuel to the fire won’t hurt. I would like someone to investigate the diets of players who suffer ligament damage for an above average use of artifical sweeteners and other supliments that cause dehyderation and hardening of plyable tissue.

  4. YehYeh13 says:

    I torn my ACLs of both knees in two basketball games between ~4 years. Mine experiences were not due to tireness. It’s about my self-conditioning.

    It’s sad to Rose. Hope he could get well. He’s tough and work hard. Agree that how Rose plays make him prone to an injury someday.

    It’s also fact that not many players having ACL injuries could return 100% before the injury. Someitmes it’s because players change their game, sometiems it’s psychological.

  5. HeatRDaBest says:

    if rose is out than the heat are automatically in the finals!!!! WWOOOOHHHHHHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. robal1 says:

    I always tell my friends that rose is not a point guard and that he plays and relies on his speed too much.
    Thats why he is prone to so many injuries.My best point guards in the NBA are still CP3,Steve Nash and Rondo
    those guys are crafty with the ball and will make them less likely to get seriously injured like Rose did so he needs to change his game abit same goes for Wesbrook.

  7. adamski says:

    The author of the text is wrong. There were five major ACL blowouts this season. Someone forgot about Chauncey Billups. If it wasn’t for his ACL the Clippers would most probably be the best in the West (or so i wish).

    • erxzed says:

      Billups tore his achilles, not ACL

    • Queiros says:

      Actually Chauncey had an Achilles injury, not an ACL… and they still wouldn’t be better than either OKC or the Spurs, though they could actually have beaten the Lakers for the Pacific Division

    • ACL says:

      seems like Point Guards are the most common victims..

  8. bj says:

    agree he plays kind a reckless to create havoc, but hey thats his style and is so good at it 🙂

    anyway I have I fun fact from my life: being prone to sprain may ankles there was one shoe I never twisted my ankle in- and it was the flight edition for Pippen Red Hot shoe from the NBA Allstar game 1994

  9. jca says:

    it’s just the way rose plays. he’s really prone to lower body injuries as he rely’s on his foot and legs so much with the way he plays. add the fact that the new shoes he’s sporting has very little support in terms of impact cushoining. and the risk of injuries is mulitplied.

  10. Domeizter says:

    I’m not a doctor but I think fatigue has something to do with injuries. These injured players are competitive. Even if they’re tired they still want to do or have to do the quickness and explosiveness they’re showing from the tip-off til the final buzzer. The only thing that results to injury is that the body can’t respond anymore to what the mind is thinking to do to outplay the opponent. And the body gives up on missed timing of step or late reaction of the body. Of course as a consultant of the NBA, he wouldn’t say it’s because of the tight schedule. I’m not a doctor but I know because I too feel fatigue slows down my reaction time.

  11. Erika says:

    Let’s go Heat!!!!!

  12. Andy Roo says:

    Every play there is a small risk of injury, obviously looking back and considering the risk of acl injury as 100% in hindsight makes the decision to play him look bad. Was a very small chance of it happening, as there always is, its just too bad for the bulls, rose, and us fans that it did.

  13. Edgar Linton says:

    Not the fault of the coach, he took an odd stop, happens. Bulls will still be the champions

  14. bj says:

    well the real question here are all the other injuries making him prone to lose balance and stability on thr knee, or that the other injuries cause the body to compensate, in this case the knee??
    if there is any truth in that, players should and must allow themselves to rehabilitate enough, but hey who is gonna stop a star player from being a part the important playoff game:
    and with the sort of fact that overuse and such usuaslly do not cause ACL tears/rupture, there is no way of knowing the true condition of the ligament before it tore.
    anyway it does not matter for Rose now its torn and done.
    Nonetheless maybe the franchise should look at the insane number of games they play during a season, and maybe deepen the rooster a bit?
    anyway I think the Bulls can make it to the conf finals, and I will be hoping they can give the Heat a scratch and luckily win.
    go Bulls, get well Rose, get well and take your time

  15. Troy says:

    Do you feel that you made a 100% full recovery?

  16. Rose will rehab and come back strong chris paul did

  17. blair56 says:

    I tore my ACL back in high school during an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee so I can attest to ACL tears occurring in the strongest, most fit athletes. :D:D