Find out what you need to know if you are facing ligament surgery

Rupture of the cruciate ligament quite often ends in surgery. If you are facing such a procedure, you would certainly want to know as much as possible about it. Let’s look at anterior and posterior cruciate ligament injuries. Let’s check when they happen and who is particularly vulnerable to them. Let’s also clarify how their treatment and rehabilitation is going.

Anterior and posterior cruciate ligament

The function of the cruciate ligaments is to maintain the stability of the knee. They connect the femur to the tibia. A person’s comfort and ease of movement depend on their performance. The anterior cruciate ligament plays a key role in sudden changes in direction of movement. We should discuss injuries to both of these ligaments separately, because not every injury ends up damaging both of them. Therefore, depending on whether the anterior or posterior ligament is ruptured, different measures may be taken.

PCL – posterior cruciate ligament

Injuries to this ligament are quite rare. They most often occur when a large force acts on the tibia from the front. Rupture of this ligament is a common theme in action movies. We can observe them when the hero kicks the opponent in the leg, below the knee. Most often, such an attack is accompanied by a spectacular fall of the opponent and a cry of pain. This is a fairly realistic representation of the situation. Damage to the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, is accompanied by pain, swelling, stiffness and instability.

In the event of such an injury, if possible, refrain from movement and do not put weight on the leg. It is necessary to see a doctor who will assess the damage to the ligaments and recommend appropriate treatment. For minor injuries, a knee stabilizing orthosis and properly conducted rehabilitation may be sufficient. In the most serious cases, however, an arthroscopic procedure must be performed. It is especially recommended for athletes and very physically active people.

ACL – anterior cruciate ligament

Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament happens much more often than rupture of the posterior ligament. Importantly, it does not only affect athletes. Most often, ligament damage is associated with either a twisting of the knee joint or overstretching of the knee. People who have experienced such an injury often speak of a characteristic cracking sound. The injury is accompanied by severe pain and swelling. In this case, do not put weight on the leg and contact your doctor. It is the orthopedist who will determine how serious the damage is and what treatment should be implemented. Importantly, it is often accompanied by damage to other structures of the knee, such as the joint capsule. In that case, treatment must also cover the remaining damaged components.

For less serious injuries, treatment may be limited to rehabilitation and training to strengthen muscles and improve stabilization of the entire body. This also stabilizes the knee. Running, swimming and cycling are recommended. However, training can only be started after a certain period of time after the injury, which is determined by the doctor based on the extent of the damage and the progress of recovery.

However, when the injury is serious, because it is accompanied by damage to the meniscus, for example, orthopedists recommend reconstruction surgery. It is most often performed in young and physically active people. For athletes, the procedure is performed up to 10 days after the injury. In other cases, it is delayed for up to several weeks. During this time, the patient is rehabilitated and fights for his fitness on his own.

Ligament reconstruction

Anterior and posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is performed arthroscopically. This means that the doctor has to make four small incisions on the skin. A special device ending in a camera is inserted into the first of the incisions. It is what allows the doctor to observe the inside of the knee and assess the damage live. Tools are placed in the remaining notches. With their help, ligaments are reconstructed and reattached in the right places, or implants are inserted. During the procedure, the patient is anesthetized and does not feel any pain. He can return home after two days.

Rehabilitation is very important

There is no doubt that rehabilitation plays a huge role in cruciate ligament injuries. It can be started as early as the next day after the procedure. It is a good idea to start rehabilitation using Continuous Passive Motion therapy. It is carried out with the help of special CPM rehabilitation splints. They help reduce pain and get rid of swelling faster. They also reduce knee stiffness, so splints are recommended by physical therapists for cruciate ligament injuries.

After the procedure, the leg should be spared for 3 to 12 weeks. During this time, you should avoid I would write only partial weight bearing on the treated knee and walk on crutches. It should take up to 6 months to return to full fitness. After such a period of time, you can already return to sports with full load. It’s also worth remembering that those who consistently and regularly exercise and work with a physical therapist can expect to shorten that time and return to daily activity more quickly.

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