Is it worth taking testosterone in the weeks before and after an ACL reconstruction?
If men take a modest amount of testosterone in the period before and after an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction they build up more lean body mass and strengthen their muscles. But the testosterone doesn't have improve the strength of the muscles in the leg that was operated on, doctors at Keck School of Medicine discovered.
The researchers did an anterior cruciate ligament operation on 13 men aged between 18 and 50. Six of the men were given a weekly injection of 200 mg testosterone cypionate in the period around the operation. The other seven were given injections containing no active ingredients.
The injections were started two weeks before the operation and continued for six weeks afterwards, so the course of steroids lasted for a total of eight weeks. During that period the testosterone level of the men in the experimental group was higher of course. The amount of lean body mass of the men in this group also increased by a couple of kilograms. After the steroids course had finished the men also managed to hold on to a fair amount of the extra lean body mass.
The testosterone increased the torque - a measurement of strength - in the men's 'good' leg, the one that did not have the damaged ligaments. The researchers measured the torque in their leg muscles by getting them to work on a leg-extension machine.
However, the testosterone had no effect on the torque that the men were able to develop in the knee they had been operated on, while the researchers had hoped that its strength would increase.
"This is the first study investigating the effects of perioperative testosterone supplementation in young, healthy men after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction," the researchers summed up.
"Patients receiving an 8-week course of 200 mg/wk of testosterone cypionate were found to have a greater increase in lean mass at 6 weeks after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction compared to patients administered placebo. The increase in lean mass suggests that testosterone may help minimize the effects of muscle atrophy associated with injuries, surgery, and immobility. This increase in lean mass was found to persist after the return of serum testosterone levels to baseline."
"Further investigation is necessary to determine the safety profile and effects of perioperative testosterone administration on leg strength and clinical outcomes after surgery."
Orthop J Sports Med. 2017 Aug 9;5(8):2325967117722794.
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