PCL Injury

1 What is Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury?

Posterior cruciate ligament injury often happens than the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Both of these help to hold your knee together and you may experience swelling, pain and feel instability if one of the ligament is torn.

Ligaments are bands of tissue that attach one bone to another. The cruciate ligaments connect the thighbone or femur to the shinbone or tibia, and then both ligaments form an X in the center of the knee.

PCL injury causes less instability, instability and pain compared to ACL.

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2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of posterior cruciate ligament injury are:

  • pain – mild to moderate that can cause difficulty in walking or slight limp,
  • swelling – it occurs rapidly,
  • instability – it may feel loose.

You may not even notice something is wrong because the signs and symptoms are so mild but after a while the pain may worsen and will make you feel unstable and uncomfortable. Your symptoms will be severe if the other parts of your knee have been injured.

3 Causes

Posterior cruciate ligament injury is caused when your shinbone hits too hard just below the knee or if you fall on a bent knee.

Posterior cruciate ligament injuries are common with:

  • motor vehicle accidents – when your knee slams against the dashboard pushing your shinbone just below the knee;
  • contact sports – such as soccer and football, they may tear their PCL when they fall on a bent knee with their foot pointed down, the shinbone will hit the ground and it will move backwards.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of posterior cruciate ligament injury is done during physical examination and by several tests.

Consult your doctor if your knee injury is so severe and he may refer you to a doctor who specializes in sports medicine or knee injuries. Before the appointment, write down the detailed symptoms that you are having and if you have any medical problems in the past, make a list of all the vitamins, supplements and medications that you are taking.

Your doctor may ask you questions such as:

  • How did you injure your knee? When did it happen?
  • What are the symptoms you are experiencing?
  • Do you have a history of knee injury?

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam. He may press your knee to check the injury or fluid if the joint is bleeding. He may also move your knee in different directions and will make you walk or stand to check if it will stay on its right position.

He may recommend one or more of these tests:

  • x-ray – to check for bone fractures in which a small chunk of bone that is attached to the ligament pulls away from the main bone;
  • MRI – this uses strong magnetic field and radio waves to create computer images of the soft tissue of your body, this can show a tear in the PCL and to check if other ligaments are also damaged;
  • arthroscopy – to check inside of your knee joint by using a video camera that will be inserted in your knee joint through a small cut.

5 Treatment

The treatment of Posterior cruciate ligament injury will depend on how severe the tear is and whether it just happened or you had it before.

Over the counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or naproxen can help in relieving pain and reduce swelling. Consult a physical therapist to help you to exercise to make your knee improve its stability and function and to make it stronger. Your doctor may also recommend crutches or knee brace during your rehabilitation.

Some of the surgeries are:

  • Joint aspiration – this is done by removing the fluid form the joint and this is only performed if you have a significant swelling of the knee that interferes with your ability to use your knee and with the joint’s range of motion;
  • Surgery – if the injury is combined with other torn knee ligaments, broken bone or cartilage damage, you may reconstruct the ligament by surgery. This is done by inserting a fiber-optic camera and slender surgical tools through several cuts around the knee.

6 Prevention

It can be difficult to prevent posterior cruciate ligament injury because most of the time they are the result of an accident or unforeseen circumstances.

Try some of these preventive measures to help minimize the risk of PCL injury:

  • stretch regularly to maintain good range of motion in the joints,
  • use proper technique and alignment when doing physical activities such as walking,
  • use precautions when playing sports in which knee injuries are common such as football and skiing,
  • strengthen the muscles of the lower and upper legs to help stabilize the joint.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some of the homeopathic remedies for posterior cruciate ligament injury include:

  • Arnica – for severe pain and trauma to the knee,
  • Rhus tox – for pain and healing,
  • Apis – for swelling; Ruta graveolens – for the pain and stiffness,
  • Bryonia – for severe pain with slightest movement,
  • Ledum – for swelling and dark bruising.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with posterior cruciate ligament injury.

Follow the R.I.C.E. model if it is mild to moderate joint injuries:

  • Rest – protect it from further damage by staying off your injured knee, you can use crutches,
  • Ice- apply ice packs for about 20 to 30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days,
  • Compression – wrap an elastic bandage around your knee,
  • Elevation – when you lie down, place a pillow under your knee to reduce the swelling.

9 Risks and Complications

Men are more at risk than women to have posterior cruciate ligament injury and playing contact sports such as football and soccer may also increase your risk.

Other cartilage or ligaments will also be damaged when you experience PCL injury. You may experience some long term knee pain and instability depending on how many of these were damaged.

This can also lead to having arthritis in your affected knee.