PCL Injury

Overview

PCL or Posterior Cruciate Ligament is one of the 4 main ligaments in the knee joint. Ligaments are rubbery ropes with connect the 2 bones. PCL along with its fellow ligament ACL in the center of the knee joint protects and stabilizes the knee against translational forces (front to back) and also against rotational forces (twisting).

Why & how does PCL Injury happen?

PCL tear is often seen in patients with dashboard injuries where knee is hit directly in the front. It can happen due to sudden fall over the bent knee as well. 

Who gets PCL Injury?

We see this typically in two wheeler and car accidents. It is also seen in sporting population such as footballers and rugby players.  Typical age group is 20 to 45 years.

Symptoms

  • Knee Pain

  • In some loud POP sound

  • Inability to walk initially

  • Feeling that knee gives away and not supporting

  • Swelling appears usually few hours later

  • Within a week most patients with PCL tear will be able to walk with a slight limp

  • Persistence of instability sensation and pain in certain movements and activities

When to seek medical help?

Initial assessment, an x-ray and pain relieving medicines is what is needed as an immediate remedy. Further assessment by an expert Arthroscopy Surgeon and MRI scan are necessary to analyze the extent of injury.

What happens to PCL if no treatment is undertaken?

PCL does not heal by itself as it has poor blood supply and the joint fluid in the knee does not allow it to heal. In spite of PCL injury, one can walk, cycle, swim, do certain gym activities and even run on a treadmill once the pain has improved after few weeks. However, activities such as running criss-cross, going up and down the stairs, on the ground and court games or even something as simple as running behind a bus in a tangent way can lead to pain or feeling that something is going to give away.

Secondly as the knee will keep on skidding with twisting and turning movements, it increases wear and tear in the joint leading to osteoarthritis at an earlier age than expected.

What happens when I visit the Consultant?

You will be asked about the nature of injury, symptoms further to that so far. Consultant will examine you and discuss the treatment modalities.