An Overview on a Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located in the back of the knee joint and keeps the tibia (shin bone) from moving too far backwards. The PCL is also responsible for keeping the tibia in position below the femur (thigh bone). A posterior cruciate ligament injury commonly occurs when a patient experiences an impact to the front of the knee, such as in an automobile accident, in sports activities or another traumatic event. Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area orthopedic knee specialist, Dr. Mark Getelman specializes in treating patients with a PCL injury, such as a PCL tear.
A PCL injury requires a powerful force to the front of the knee. This typically occurs from falling on a bent knee during a sporting activity or a bent knee hitting a dashboard during an automobile accident.
A posterior cruciate ligament injury is graded on a severity scale, including a simple PCL injury to a complete PCL tear.
- Grade I: A simple stretch or strain to the ligament
- Grade II: A stretch or partial tear to the ligament that creates looseness but the ligament remains intact
- Grade III: A complete PCL tear where the ligament is split into two pieces
PCL Injury Symptoms
A PCL injury is typically marked by knee pain and swelling. The vascular nature of the PCL causes it to swell soon after impact, caused by internal bleeding. A PCL tear may cause a patient to experience instability and limited mobility.
PCL Injury Diagnosis
A thorough physical examination of the knee will be performed by Dr. Getelman to diagnose a posterior cruciate ligament injury. A posterior sag may be identified with the knee in a flexed position and specific tests, such as the Quadriceps Active test and posterior drawer test, will be performed to check for any abnormality or changes in appearance of the injured knee compared to the uninjured knee. Dr. Getelman may also recommend a series of X-rays or an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis.