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Good Question: Why Are Knee Injuries So Common?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a complete tear in his ACL -- the anterior cruciate ligament.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says it is the most common kind of knee injury, with more than 200,000 of them reported every year.

"The knee is particularly vulnerable because it transmits all of the forces from the ground up to the body," said Dr. Nancy Cummings, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

(credit: Jupiter Images)

The human body was designed to run and walk in a straight line. But now people leap, turn and twist under high-demand situations.

Ankle sprains are the most common lower-extremity injury, but they heal much more easily than the knees. Unlike the hips, which are surrounded by bone, the knee does not have much bony stability.

"It's the soft tissue around the knee that provides stability," said Dr. Cummings. "There's very little stability from the bony structure."

Knee injuries can take months to heal. ACL tears can take up to a year.

"With an ACL injury, you're literally doing a reconstruction," said Dr. Cummings. "We're not repairing the ligament. We're replacing it with a piece of the patient's tissue."

In recent years, as athletes have become larger and stronger, there are strength programs that specifically help to prevent ACL injuries. They focus on building strength in the core and around the knees and hips.

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