The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is situated along the back of your knee that connects your thigh bone to the top of your lower leg bone. This helps in keeping the bone in its place and also helps in smooth movements of your knee. When this ligament gets torn or strained, it is known as a posterior cruciate ligament or PCL injury.
A PCL injury can be mild, moderate or severe in terms of the level of damage. It is usually categorised into four levels:
- Grade 1 – A partial tear to the ligament.
- Grade 2 – A partial tear to the ligament and it also feels a bit wobbly.
- Grade 3 – The ligament is completely torn and the knee becomes unstable.
- Grade 4 – The PCL is injured along with another knee ligament.
A PCL injury occurs when the knee suffers severe trauma. This can happen when someone witnesses a fall on a bent knee when the front of the knee witnesses a powerful impact, when the knee is bent far backwards, or when the knee gets dislocated.
The symptoms may include the gradual increase of pain in the impacted area, swelling, an unstable feeling in the knee, stiffness, difficulties in walking, and trouble taking the stairs.
The doctor will do a physical examination of the knee, which would include a check of the range of motion and also an enquiry about the symptoms you have noticed after sustaining the injury. They might also ask you to get certain imaging tests that would help them determine the severity of the damage. These tests could include X-rays, MRIs, and a CT scan.
Treatment and Management
For self-care, you can try to incorporate the RICE method, which would require you to rest the knee for a while, apply cold compressions on the knee a few times a day, compress the damaged area with a bandage that will also help in reducing the swelling, and elevate the leg. Pain relievers can also be taken to help deal with the pain.
Some of the common treatments for PCL injuries include:
- Crutches – Crutches can be prescribed to limit the weight that you will put on your knee while walking.
- Knee Braces – Knee braces help stabilize the knee, if that symptom is present.
- Physical Therapy – Exercises that will facilitate the strengthening and stabilization of the knee.
- Surgery – If the injury is severe, a knee arthroscopy procedure may be performed to reconstruct your ligament.
Call us today for a consultation. Our very own specialist, Dr Reetadyuti Mukhopadhyay is at your service to assist you.