Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
Our knees are built with two cruciate ligaments that control the back and forth movements of the joint. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is bigger and stronger than the anterior cruciate ligament, so injuries to the PCL are less common. However, we still see our fair share of PCL injuries in athletic patients at MOTUS.
The PCL helps to stabilize the knee and keep the tibia and femur in line. It prevents the knee from hyperextending as well as protect it from excessive internal rotation. A PCL injury might occur as an isolated injury, or in combination with other injuries.
While the more common ACL injury is usually the result of incorrect movements by the athlete, a PCL injury is more likely to occur from a direct blow to a flexed knee by an outside force. This mechanism of injury is often the result of a dashboard injury during a car accident. In this case, the PCL injury is usually one of several injuries.
At MOTUS, we usually treat isolated PCL injuries that result from faulty movements in sports like football, skiing, and soccer. In these games, athletes may injure their PCL by hyperextension or rotational stress. Hyper-flexion is the most common means of PCL injuries for athletes, followed by landing a jump poorly or rapidly changing direction.
A PCL injury may present with different levels of severity. Athletes often don’t notice a pop at the time of an isolated PCL injury. They might even be able to keep playing. Symptoms may produce minimal swelling and pain. Range of motion and gait pattern tends to be unaffected.
When a PCL injury occurs in combination with other ligamentous injuries, symptoms are usually more severe and vary depending on the knee injury. Athletes with combination PCL injuries tend to experience reduced stability, limited mobilization and range of motion, and more swelling and pain.
An injury to the PCL could range from a stretch to a complete tear and might be acute or chronic. If you come into our clinic with symptoms of a knee injury, our experienced team of physical therapists will perform an examination of the whole body to get a thorough understanding of the problem. They will then create a recovery and treatment plan for you based on the severity and cause of your injury. Common treatment options include pneumatic compression therapy and hot and cold therapy, as well as knee strengthening and stabilization exercises.