Cruciate Ligament Rupture

The posterior and anterior cruciate ligaments are ligaments within the knee and that typically only rupture when there is a blow to the knee while it’s bent. This can happen during traumatic events such as a car crash and in sports such as football, baseball, soccer, skiing, martial arts, and more.

Both the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) share the same thickness and strength. PCL tears make up less than 20% of injuries to knee ligaments. It may rupture entirely (complete cruciate ligament rupture) or individual fibers may be torn (partial cruciate ligament rupture).

In most cases, a cruciate ligament rupture happens when the knee twists inwards with the upper body while bending backward at the same time. When this occurs, it is common for the fibers to tear where the ligament is connected to the thigh bone.

Another reason for this injury may be due to a congenital anomaly of the cruciate ligament that can lead to permanent over-strain until the ligament ruptures from a minor cause.

Patients with this injury often find the knee joint very painful and it usually swells up within the first few hours. Another sign is joint effusion and marked joint instability.

Treatments for a Cruciate Ligament Rupture

  • Once the acute pain has diminished, regular physiotherapy is usually prescribed. This improves the stability of the affected knee joint by strengthening muscles and coordination.
  • Electro-physiotherapy, ultrasounds and ice packs can also be used for treatment, either separately or in combination. This improves perfusion and relieves pain.
  • Life-long consistent muscle training is necessary to help the muscles take over the task of the torn cruciate ligament.
  • Supportive knee braces can be used during sports and after operations. This helps stabilize the knee joint, enable mobility and relieve stress.
  • If an operation is needed, a cruciate ligament-plasty is usually performed. In this procedure, a piece of the body's own tendon is implanted in the knee as a replacement. After the operation, aftercare with physiotherapy and other methods (listed above) are essential.

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