Previous injuries increase risk of leg injury

An individual who had a leg injury in the past can have an increased risk of experiencing the same injury again in the future. And often, this recurring injury is worse than the first. However, could an injury from one part of the body increase the risk of injury to a different part of the body? Could an ankle sprain from last season make someone more susceptible to hurting their knee this season? Authors from Australia attempted to answer this question using a systematic review. The study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed studies on the risk of sustaining a subsequent lower limb injury different in nature or location following a previous injury.

The authors identified 12 different studies on sports-related injuries, in which leg injuries were reported following a previous injury in another location. The authors found:

  • Previous history of an ACL injury was associated with an increased risk of subsequent hamstring injury (three studies),
  • a history of chronic groin injury was not associated with subsequent hamstring injury (three studies).
  • Previous lower limb muscular injury (hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, or calves) was associated with an increased risk of sustaining a lower limb muscular injury at a different site.
  • A history of concussion and a variety of joint injuries were associated with an increased subsequent lower limb injury risk.

The authors concluded that previous injury of any type may increase the risk for a range of lower limb subsequent injuries. And thus, athletes with a previous history of musculoskeletal injury should be considered at-risk for leg injuries in the future, and rehabilitation programs for any injury should also provide preventative exercises for other parts of the body.