What is PCL Tear?
Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL tear is a less common knee injury when compared to the ACL tear. The Posterior Cruciate Ligament injury usually occurs when the front of the knee receives a blow while the knee is bent. It can happen in a car accident or a sport-related one. Partial PCL tears tend to heal on its own.
PCL is the ligament located inside the knee connecting your thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The PCL prevents the tibia from moving backwards.
The different ways of causing a PCL tear are:
- A direct blow to the front of the knee either in a car accident with the bent knee hitting a dashboard or falling on a bent knee in playing sports like football, baseball and skiing.
- By Pulling or stretching the ligament such as in a twisting or hyperextension injury
- A simple misstep
If the knee has no associated injuries to its other parts, the signs and symptoms of PCL tear are usually really mild and can’t make out if anything is wrong. As time progresses, pain might worsen and can make the knee unstable.
The observable symptoms of a PCL tear are:
- Mild or moderate pain in the knee causing a slight limp or even difficulty in walking
- Swelling of the knee also causing a slight limp or difficulty in walking
- Medial joint pain and anterior knee pain in adults after injury could be a sign of Posterior Circulate Ligament injury.
- The knee gives the feeling of its going to give away from under you and being loose.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In a physical examination, the doctor will compare it with the uninjured one to check for any sagging or abnormal movement in the knee or shinbone. The doctor might press on your knee to check for any injury, looseness or fluid in the joint from bleeding.
The following tests might be suggested to help in diagnosis:
- X-rays to get a clear image of the bones to rule out a fracture but it can’t visualize ligaments and tendons.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to see the extent of the Anterior Circulate Ligament Tear injury and damage to other tissues of the knees.
- Arthroscopy to look inside the knee joint, if it is unclear how extensive the injury is.
PCL tears can be avoided by following a few preventive measures:
- Maintain proper exercise and sport technique like following the warm-ups and cooling down properly.
- Going though the proper range of motion of the knee.
- Strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscle to stabilize the knee
- Performing balancing exercises to gain better balance to the body
- Wearing knee straps also prevents injury.