For Athletes, High School Surgery May Spell College Injury

Orthopedic surgery in high school linked to more surgery for college athletes


It's easy for college athletes to think of themselves as invincible. But, even at their young age, these athletes need to allow the proper time to heal from sports injuries.

A new study found that college athletes who underwent pre-college surgeries were more likely to undergo orthopedic surgery during their college careers. This suggests inadequate surgery rehabilitation time.

"Our results suggest that athletes injured before college might be left with a functional deficit that puts them at risk for future injury,” said lead study author Dean Wang, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, in a press release.

Dr. Wang and team looked at the histories of 1,142 college athletes at one academic university during the 2003 to 2009 seasons. These athletes participated in 12 different sports, including baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, rowing, swimming and cross country.

Dr. Wang and team found that 186 of these athletes (16.3 percent) had surgery prior to college.

During their college careers, 182 of these athletes (15.9 percent) also had at least one surgery. These surgeries included procedures to treat shoulder, hip and knee injuries.

The athletes who had pre-college surgery were more than twice as likely to have another surgery on the same trouble spot during college, compared with athletes who didn't have pre-college surgery.

This was true regardless of the athlete's gender or sport. Participating in gymnastics, basketball and volleyball were tied to the largest increase in surgery risk for college athletes.

This study was presented July 12 at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting. Studies presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

No conflicts of interest or funding sources were disclosed.