PCL Injury

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A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear or strain is an injury caused by overstretching, tearing or rupturing of the posterior cruciate ligament of the knee. Typically, this injury is the result of a blow to the front of the knee. The PCL is located behind the knee joint and constrains the thigh bone sliding off the anterior (from) edge of the shin bone. It also prevents the shinbone sliding behind the thigh bone. Hence, a hard blow to the front of the knee can stretch or tear that ligament. PCL tear or sprain symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling behind the knee. Treatment of a PCL injury is typically by giving the knee a period of rest, as well as icing it and wearing a knee brace for additional knee support.

What Are The Typical Causes Of A PCL Injury?

Common causes of injury to the pcl ligament are:

  • the knee hitting the dashboard in an automobile accident; or
  • falling hard on the knee e.g. during participation in a sporting activity.

Symptoms Of A PCL Tear Or Sprain

The usual symptoms of a pcl tear or sprain are pain, swelling, tenderness and potential instability of the knee joint.

A PCL injury can also cause difficulty moving or bending the knee. Bruising may also be apparent in the region of the knee. And there may also be a feeling of “giving way” when the patient attempts to place weight on the knee.

PCL Injury Treatment

If your PCL injury is not severe (i.e. there is no knee instability) the patient may be able to successfully treat it by resting the knee and avoiding placing weight on it. He may find it advantageous to use crutches or a wheelchair to avoid placing weight on the knee.

A knee brace will help to support the knee and allow the ligament to recover naturally. In addition, the patient can:

  • Use ice on the knee to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling;
  • Also use NSAID medications for additional mitigation of knee pain and swelling;
  • Keep the knee elevated above heart level when sitting or lying down;
  • Wear elastic wraps or a knee sleeve on the knee for compression.

If your PCL injury is severe, or does not respond to the moderate treatment described above, it may be necessary to consider correcting it via surgery.

Recovery from a PCL tear or sprain can take as little as 3-4 weeks if the injury is treated properly. However, for a more severe injury (a ligament tear or complete rupture) a longer period of around 8-12 weeks may be needed.

The patient should also ask a physiotherapist to devise an exercise program to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and return the range of motion to its previous level.

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