The type of treatment for a posterior cruciate ligament tear and the pcl tear recovery time depend on the age and level of activity of the person concerned and on existing concomitant injuries such as meniscus or cartilage damage.
The posterior cruciate ligament can tear under certain circumstances. In principle, PCL injuries can be treated conservatively (without surgery) or surgically.
The regeneration of a PCL tear is very time-consuming. It usually takes nine to twelve months for posterior cruciate ligament tears to become fully fit for sport. However, less stressful movements in everyday life are possible much earlier.
Tear of the posterior cruciate ligament
A posterior cruciate ligament tear is much less common. Typical triggers are bicycle or car accidents in which a strong force is applied to the shin bone from the front when the knee joint is bent. For example, this can be the case through the dashboard in a rear-end collision.
PCL tear recovery time
The pcl tear recovery time does not differ significantly between conservative and surgical therapy. Without an operation, the full load on the knee joint is often reached a little earlier. In addition, there are usually fewer limitations in terms of joint mobility. Strength training can usually be started a little earlier than after an operation. However, the final resilience for all sports can only be expected after nine to twelve months with both therapy approaches.
Even if there should always be a consultation with the doctor treating you in individual cases, there are a few points you should know:
- Discharge from the hospital a few days after PCL surgery.
- Removal of the sutures after approximately 14 days.
- Occupational activities that do not involve great physical strain can usually be carried out again after four to six weeks.
- Cycling on the ergometer can be started after six to eight weeks if the knees are sufficiently bent.
- After four months, a careful start with running training can take place.
- Depending on the sport, further activities can be resumed from the seventh month.
- In the case of more strenuous activities, a decision will be made in consultation with the doctor treating you as to when these can be resumed.
Therapy goals to reduce pcl tear recovery time
The goals of conservative and surgical therapy after a tear in the PCL include:
- Pain relief and swelling of the knee joint
- restoration of mobility
- Strengthening of the VMO, Quads and hamstring muscles.
- coordination training
- Proprioception training (perception of the position and position of the joints in space)
- sport-specific training
Do posterior cruciate ligament knee injuries heal on their own?
Most PCL injuries (Grade I and II) often heal on their own. This is because the posterior cruciate ligament has a dense sheath that protects the posterior cruciate ligament while it heals. While it may look normal and healthy on the MRI after 6 months, it may heal in an elongated position. Although it appears “normal” on the MRI, it may not function properly in the knee. Think of a rubber band that has been stretched and subsequently cannot return to its previous tension. To help determine if this has occurred, stress radiographs in which the posterior cruciate ligament is dynamically analyzed can help determine the severity of the injury.
What is the treatment for a posterior cruciate ligament injury?
If the patient only has a posterior cruciate ligament injury, conservative treatment may be attempted for partial injuries (grades I and II).
The conservative approach involves:
- Tylenol (acetaminophen).
- Physical therapy.
Physical therapy for a posterior cruciate ligament injury is somewhat more restrictive than for an anterior cruciate ligament injury (since high degrees of flexion (bending) can stress the posterior cruciate ligament) and focuses on activating the quadriceps muscle while prevents activation of the hamstrings. Too much hamstring activity will pull the tibia backwards, which can stretch the healing of the posterior cruciate ligament. For this reason, a brace is usually needed.
For patients with combined ligamentous injury, chronic cases, or those who remain symptomatic despite conservative treatment, surgery is recommended. Posterior cruciate ligament surgery is similar to anterior cruciate ligament surgery in that it involves drilling tunnels into the tibia and femur bones, placing a graft into the openings made. However, because the posterior cruciate ligament is larger, it typically requires two grafts to truly replicate the anatomy and biomechanics. Achilles tendon allografts and hamstring tendon autografts and tendons are most commonly used. Substantial evidence suggests that the double-bundle (two graft) technique is superior in terms of knee function and stability.
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Can I return to sports after a posterior cruciate ligament injury?
Depending on the severity of the injury and associated injuries, most posterior cruciate ligament reconstructions can return to sports within 9 to 12 months.
How long does PCL take to heal?
- Depending on the severity of the injury and other associated ligamentous injuries, recovery can be between 6 and 12 months.
- Physiotherapy sessions begin on the first day after the operation to increase the pcl tear surgery recovery time.
- Patients should not bear weight (or very little weight) for the first six weeks after an injury or surgery.
- After this initial period, the crutches can be removed when they can walk without a limp.
- Patients can usually return to driving two to three weeks after they can walk.
- Endurance and strengthening exercises can be started in the 2 phase of rehabilitation.
- Agility drills start at 4 months along with career progression if the above stages have been successfully completed.
- Although the return to sport is different between patients.