Home Treatment of a Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

For initial treatment of a PCL injury, the approach known as PRICE may be helpful. This includes:

  • Protecting the knee from further injury
  • Resting the knee
  • Icing the knee for short periods with cold packs
  • Compressing the knee gently, such as with an elastic bandage
  • Elevating the knee

A pain-relieving medication may also be needed for knee pain.

Nonsurgical Treatment of Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

You can recover from some posterior cruciate ligament injuries without surgery.

Cases that may not require surgery include:

  • Acute grade I or II injuries when no other knee ligaments are injured
  • Newly diagnosed chronic injuries that only affect the PCL and aren’t causing symptoms

Some people need to go through physical therapy after a PCL injury. This rehabilitation may be necessary with or without surgery.

Rehabilitation may include:

  • Using crutches at first, then gradually walking with more weight on the knee
  • Having a machine or therapist move your leg through its range of motion
  • Temporarily wearing a knee brace for support
  • Strengthening your thigh muscles to help make the knee more stable
  • Walking or running in a pool or on a treadmill
  • Specific training needed for a sport

Surgery for Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Patients who may be more likely to need surgery include those who have:

  • PCL injuries in which pieces of bone have torn off and become loose
  • Injuries involving more than one ligament
  • Chronic PCL looseness that causes symptoms, especially in athletes

If a piece of bone is torn off, a surgeon may fasten the bone back into place using a screw.

Surgery for a torn PCL requires replacing it with new tissue rather than stitching together the torn ligament. The ligament may be replaced with:

  • Tissue from a deceased donor
  • Piece of tendon moved from somewhere else in the body, such as the back of the thigh or heel

The operation is sometimes done as an “open” surgery. This requires a large incision in the knee.

A less-invasive option involves a tool called an arthroscope. The surgeon uses smaller incisions.

After surgery, the length of time needed for rehabilitation can range from 26 to 52 weeeks.