Treatment of Knee Ligament Tear
A mild to moderate injury to a ligament in the knee may heal on its own in time. Just as in an ankle sprain, the RICE procedure will also work for the knee. Adding the following measures to the care of your knee to help it heal more quickly:
- Rest the knee. Avoid putting excess weight on your knee if it’s painful to do so. You may need to use crutches for a time.
- Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain and swelling is gone.
- Compress your knee. Use an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves on your knee to control swelling.
- Elevate your knee on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
- Wear a knee brace to stabilize the knee and protect it from further injury.
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects and they should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
- Rehabilitating the knee will include stretching and strengthening exercises when you doctor recommends them. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help reduce stress to the knee if performed in a pain-free manner. Sideline Orthopedics will refer you to a physical therapist to begin a rehabilitation program.
Fortunately, most collateral ligament tears and isolated PCL tears do not require surgery. However, the ACL cannot be repaired. Once it is completely torn or stretched beyond its limits, the only option becomes a reconstruction procedure. In this procedure, tendons are taken from other parts of your leg or donor tendons are used to replace the torn ligament.
Surgical Reconstruction of ACL/PCL
Surgical reconstruction of the ACL or PCL usually involves using an autograft or donor ligament tissue. The most common grafts are autografts using part of your own body, such as the tendon of the kneecap (patellar tendon) or one of the hamstring tendons. Your doctor will discuss with you and help you decide on the best graft choice for your knee.
An alternate choice is allograft tissue, which is taken from a deceased donor. The orthopedic surgeon generally uses arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgery to repair the torn ligament in the knee. The graft is pulled through two tunnels that are drilled in the upper and lower leg bones. The surgeon secures the graft with hardware such as screws or staples and will close the incisions with stitches.