With any injury, whether it is a wrist sprain, broken ankle or in the case of this article, a posterior cruciate ligament injury (PCL), there are obvious ways to diagnose and treat. While breaking a leg is no walk in the park, compared to a PCL injury, it can be (figuratively, not literally). Your PCL plays a very critical role in the stability and controlling the rotation of your knee.
Within the first few days of the injury, or you have noticeable symptoms that something is wrong, it is important to see a doctor. No matter how small the ligament tear is, proper treatment is vital to making a full recovery. At first you may be sent home and told to relax, ice, bandage and be patient. But when your patience wears thin, the pain has subsided, and the swelling starts to go down, what do you do?
The most common treatment for this type of injury is physical therapy. Normally, for a low to mid grade PCL injury, rehabilitation is the best method. Although it can be nagging, painful and time consuming, your chances of a near full recovery are really good. For the most part, rehab can take anywhere from two to12 weeks, depending on the size of the tear and severity of the injury. In addition to physical therapy, you should speak with your doctor about ways to keep getting stronger at home. For instance, yoga and swimming are not only good for the soul, but extremely beneficial for those with a knee injury. There is little to no impact on your knee joint, yet it gives you a total body workout, strengthening and rejuvenating your injury and your body as whole.
If your injury is more severe, you may require surgery. Although there are worse things in life, the recovery for operative treatment can be long, painful and tedious. Very much like the operative treatment for an ACL injury, you will need to start rehab before surgery, and then continue rehab for up to a year after surgery. That timetable does not apply to everyone, but the moral of the story is you have a long road ahead of you. This is not to say you could go through surgery and be back on your feet in a few months, but it all depends on your age, injury and body’s response to this course of treatment.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is be completely educated on your injury, the risks and benefits to operative versus non-operative treatment, and be very compliant to all the instructions you receive regarding home treatment and rehabilitation from your doctor and physical therapist.