The Posterior Cruciate Ligament

The Posterior Cruciate Ligament

As one of four key ligaments, the posterior cruciate ligament is crucial for knee joint stability. It is made of sturdy fibrous material and controls the excessive motion of the knee by limiting joint mobility.

Your posterior cruciate ligament injury will usually be triggered by a forced hyperextension or a posterior translation of the tibia. Whilst it is the least common of the major four knee ligament injuries it is commonly seen in car accidents and sports injuries from bad landings. At times the PCL injury can occur at the same time as an Anterior cruciate ligament or medial collateral ligament injury.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of a posterior cruciate ligament are less obvious than those experienced with an ACL injury. With an ACL injury, it is common to hear or feel a “pop” in your knee, however, PCL injuries are often silent.

Symptoms of a PCL injury are often vague and hard to diagnose, you may notice some changes in your ability to move your knee as opposed to the stability of the knee itself. If you suspect that you may have injured your PCL it is important to get it clinically diagnosed as soon as possible

Diagnosis:

Your posterior cruciate ligament will be diagnosed by your myotherapist or doctor looking for clinical signs of instability in the knee. Certain tests are specialised to place stress on the PCL to determine whether a ligament is torn as well as what grade the tear is. In some cases, an MRI can be used to detect whether the PCL is overstretched or ruptured. During an MRI it is also possible to see whether any other areas of the knee have been affected.

Surgery:

Whether your posterior cruciate ligament will require surgery or not largely depends on the grading of the injury. If your injury is graded as a stage 1 or 2 level injury then it will generally respond very well to non-surgical recovery options. Ideally, acute PCL injuries should commence rehabilitation within four days of post-injury. If your PCL tear is a grade 3 injury you may require surgery, particularly if you require a fully functional PCL for sport.

However, many Grade 3 PCL injuries can go un-repaired if there is no sign of constant swelling, instability or pain. With the appropriate rehabilitation, it is possible to avoid surgery in most cases.

If you have a PCL tear it is common to start to feel better within a few weeks of the injury occurring. You may feel as though your knee is pain-free, however, issues such as instability may still be there. You will require at least six weeks of rest for the natural healing process of your ligaments.

Injury Rehabilitation:

It is crucial to undergo a comprehensive knee rehabilitation program guided by your myotherapist to restore, balance, strength, agility and function! This will be even more important if you are planning to return to your sport of choice post-injury.

There has been a lot of research conducted over the last few years to help prevent posterior cruciate ligament tears. Your myotherapist will always be up to date with the latest research-supported findings and should always be consulted in any prevention strategies.

The current findings have pointed to certain types of muscle training focusing on strengthening, proprioceptive and neuromuscular methods to help prevent PCL tears! It is crucial to speak with your myotherapist to receive advice that is relevant to your personal situation.

Return To Sport:

Many sports require a full functioning PCL to allow for movements such as jumping, hyperextension and twisting. Most notably these including Dancing, AFL, Hockey, Football, Basketball, gymnastics, Skiing, Snowboarding and netball. Many other sports will also require similar movements.

Many people choose to go about their normal day to day lives without a completely functional PCL. This, however, is not possible if you are going to be playing in any of the aforementioned sports. Your myotherapist will be able to guide you on the techniques that will provide the best self-management possible!