PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury

The posterior cruciate ligament (or PCL) is a strong band of tissue inside of the knee joint that connects the upper and lower leg bones and assists with movement. This ligament is also the knee's primary stabilizer and when it is torn, it can cause pain and instability unless treated.

What You Need to Know About PCL Tear

What is a PCL Injury?

A Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) tear is a condition that occurs when the tissues inside the knee joint are torn or sprained. The PCL is located in the back of your knee and connects the femur (the thigh bone) to the tibia (the shin bone). The ligament keeps these bones in place and assists the back-and-forth motion of the knee.

A torn PCL can cause the knee to be unstable and can lead to additional injuries to adjacent ligaments in severe cases. Damage to the posterior cruciate ligament often results in only mild tears and people with this injury may be able to return to sports without stability issues.

Quality treatment for a torn PCL starts with a visit to a Resurgens Orthopaedic specialist. Schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians today!

What Causes a PCL Injury?

A PCL tear can occur in a number of different ways. When damage to the PCL happens, it often coincides with injury to other bones, ligaments, and cartilage in the knee and leg. The PCL is often torn when a bent knee is struck with a significant force, most commonly in auto accidents and sports injuries. Injury of the PCL on its own is a less common occurrence and is harder to detect than more frequent knee injuries.

In addition to falling onto a bent knee, athletes can also create this injury during incidents of hyperextension, twisting, or landing improperly after a jump. Likewise, a torn PCL can also happen when your knee is dislocated, if you bend your knee too far backward, or gradually over time.

PCL Injury Symptoms

If your posterior cruciate ligament is damaged, you will immediately notice pain and swelling in the knee and have issues with stability while standing or walking. Visually the knee may appear to sag backward or slide back too far when bent back.

Other PCL tear symptoms may include:

  • The knee feels like it may "give out" when walking
  • The knee feels stiff or creates a limp

  • Inflammation and increased pain over time

  • Difficulty using stairs

If you are experiencing one or more of these PCL tear symptoms, schedule an appointment with Resurgens Orthopaedics today!

How is a PCL Injury Diagnosed?

Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament can range from minor to severe cases. To diagnose the cause of your PCL tear symptoms, our doctors utilize cutting-edge radiography equipment to help assess your condition.

Depending on your needs, Resurgens provides MRI, EMG, CT-Scans, and nerve conduction studies to narrow down the cause of your pain or mobility issues. We can also conduct electrodiagnostic screening to locate where an injury occurred — and plan a treatment plan to promote your wellbeing.

PCL Injury Treatment

The initial PCL injury should be treated with a combination of ice, compression, elevation, and rest until a Resurgens Physician gives a proper diagnosis. Treatment for a PCL injury is based on the seriousness of the condition; your injury may heal on its own or require additional care.

In more severe cases, surgical treatments may be the best option for complete rehabilitation. Many PCL injuries are remedied with a combination of rest, physical therapy, and a knee brace or crutches.

Non-Surgical Treatment

In minor cases where the injury can heal independently, it is still important to take the proper steps towards protecting the knee and minimizing the strain that negates healing. Your doctor may recommend one or a combination of treatments for PCL strain:

  • Knee braces, which assist stability in a leg that is suffering from a torn PCL

  • Crutches, which both aids stability and minimizes the weight that is put onto the knee

  • Physical therapy, which utilizes exercise to strengthen the knee after injury

  • Casting, which limits mobility in order to better restore the health of the knee

Surgical Treatment

Surgical options may be considered for proper healing when injury to the posterior cruciate ligament is severe. Surgery is usually suggested whenever the PCL injury has also affected other surrounding ligaments in the knee or whenever a piece of bone is torn off when the ligament was torn.

Our doctors will not advocate for surgical intervention until all other potential treatments have been exhausted. Resurgens provides surgical procedures for a torn PCL ranging from arthroscopic meniscus repair to total knee replacement.

A common surgical treatment for a PCL tear is a knee arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that rebuilds the torn ligament. In PCL reconstructive surgery, the torn ligament tissue is replaced with another piece of grafted tissue, usually from a donor or from somewhere else in the body. Recovery time for this surgery will usually range from 6 to 12 months, depending on the injury's extent.

No two injuries are the same, and our team of knee therapists and physicians are here to help to create a plan that is right for you. Schedule an appointment at Resurgens Orthodontics to find relief for your PCL tear symptoms.

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