• conscripts;
  • Finland;
  • epidemiology;
  • menisci;
  • anterior cruciate ligament;
  • posterior cruciate ligament;
  • patellar dislocation;
  • collateral ligaments

The population-based incidence and risk factors for knee injuries in young adults were assessed in Finnish male conscripts performing their compulsory military service (n = 128 584). The main outcome variables were (1) hospitalization due to knee injuries overall and (2) hospitalization due to knee disorders as categorized into specific International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision diagnoses (cruciate and collateral ligament tears, meniscal tears, traumatic chondral lesions, and patellar dislocations). Person-time injury-incidence rates were calculated by dividing the number of persons with a diagnosed knee injury by the total exposure time of 97 503 person-years. The number of subjects with surgical operations and military service class changes indicative of longer term notable disability are also reported. Risk factor analyses were performed by logistic regression. The person-based incidence of hospitalizations for knee injury was 11 cases per 1000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI): 10.4–11.7]. The most important risk factors were higher age (odds ratio 1.7; 95% CI: 1.3–2.2) and obesity (odds ratio 1.6; 95% CI: 1.03–2.5). Two thirds of all subjects hospitalized for knee injuries had surgery, and one third had longer term notable disability. These findings indicate that knee injuries cause a significant burden of hospitalizations, often leading to surgery and longer term disability.