Located inside the knee joint towards the back (posterior) of the knee, the posterior cruciate ligament is responsible for keeping the tibia (shinbone) in alignment with the femur (thighbone). PCL injuries occur when the tibia moves too far backward in relation to the femur, commonly seen during a motor vehicle accident or sports activities. Athletes can sustain damage to the PCL when falling on a bent knee or sliding into an object with great force. Some PCL tears may be treated with non-surgical measures, while other more severe tears may require PCL surgery. Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic knee surgeon, Dr. Matthew Provencher specializes in PCL reconstruction designed to return patients to their pre-injury activity level following a PCL ligament injury.
The PCL can become torn in isolation or in conjunction with the other major ligaments in the knee. Dr. Provencher will perform a thorough physical examination and medical review before determining if PCL reconstruction is necessary to treat the tear. He will also perform an MRI scan to determine injury severity, location, and assess for any concomitant injuries.
If PCL surgery is necessary to return full function and stability to the knee joint, Dr. Provencher will reconstruct the torn ligament with a graft using an arthroscopic approach. An allograft, a donor tissue from another individual, is typically utilized during a PCL reconstruction. Strong sutures will be used to tightly secure the ligament to a similar native PCL footprint (size, shape, location).
Recovery and Rehabilitation Following PCL Reconstruction
A brace is required for six months following PCL surgery to help prevent gravity from stretching out the reconstructed ligament. Crutches will be required for approximately six weeks to keep weight off the injured knee and to help protect the new repair. A thorough physical therapy program will be prescribed by Dr. Provencher following PCL reconstruction. It is strongly suggested that patients work with the in-house physical therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine to optimize their rehabilitation. A physical therapist will guide each patient carefully through range of motion and strengthening exercises. Many patients can expect to return to running and pivoting activities within 6-9 months if the rehabilitation program is strictly followed.
For additional resources on PCL surgery, or to determine if your ligament injury requires PCL reconstruction, please contact the Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic office of Dr. Matthew Provencher.