What is a PCL Knee injury?

A PCL injury is a sprain or tear of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The PCL is a band of tissue that crosses inside the centre of the knee joint. It connects your thigh bone to the bone of your lower leg. The PCL keeps your knee stable when it moves forward or backward. Physiotherapy Now

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Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, discusses PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) knee injuries

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Symptoms of a PCL tear can include trouble bearing weight on the knee.

Patients may not even realize they’ve suffered a PCL sprain or tear. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, trouble bearing weight on the knee or walking and a feeling of wobbliness in the knee.

The RICE method is not a good treatment for a PCL injury.

Depending on the degree of the injury that you’ve sustained, your healthcare provider will recommend physiotherapy, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, pain medication, bracing or surgery.

A knee brace can be helpful when you're recovering from a PCL injury.

Most lower-grade PCL injuries can be rehabbed and treated with strengthening through physiotherapy and exercise, often while wearing a knee brace.

Surgery is never an option for a PCL injury.

A significant posterior cruciate ligament injury may require surgery. There is a less invasive procedure that may be an option: arthroscopic knee surgery.

If you need surgery, recovery can take up to 52 weeks.

Recovery after a PCL injury generally takes up to six weeks, but if you require surgery, it can take up to 52 weeks.
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Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, discusses Combined PCL PLC Knee Ligament Injury and surgical options.

Injury Recovery Process

With any injury your body kind of goes through three stages.

Initially, your body is trying to deal with the alarm, so in the first 72 hours it’s trying to figure out what’s happened and what it can do for it.

After about the 72 hours, sort of two days to six weeks your body is going through remodeling and laying down the scar tissue. And after that, from about four weeks up to a year you’re doing the repair and maturation phase.

Now it’s really important to understand that yes, we have these guidelines or stages, but every individual is different, so it’s really important to go and see a qualified physiotherapist to determine what level and stage you as an individual end up in so that you’re on the right treatment plan for what you need for what you need for that injury at that point in time.

If you have questions about the injury recovery process, contact a local physiotherapist.

Presenter: Mr. Behnad Honarbakhsh, Physiotherapist, Vancouver, BC

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PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) Knee Injuries

PCL injury or posterior cruciate ligament is a ligament of the knee that is found in the back of the knee, and inside in the central region of the knee.

Looking at a knee model, you have your kneecap. We have the femur or the thigh bone. We’ve got the tibia or the shin bone. And looking inside the knee from the front, you can see the anterior cruciate ligament, and you can just see the posterior cruciate ligament passing there.

If I turn the model around so that we can see the back of the knee, this gives a better look of the posterior cruciate ligament, which runs right here. What it does is it stops the shin bone or the tibia from sliding backwards.

And so when you injure the posterior cruciate ligament, there’s a number of mechanisms for injuring it. They can be injured in motor vehicle accidents, from striking the dash with your knee flexed at 90 degrees. And what that essentially does, it pushes your shin bone backwards and you tear your posterior cruciate ligament.

In sports, it can occur similarly, if you land on your knee on a field or a court, if you hyper-flex or hyper-extend the knee and get hit, such that the shin bone or the tibia is pushed backwards. You can rupture your posterior cruciate ligament.

If you think you’ve injured your posterior cruciate ligament, or you have questions regarding that, then you should either go to the emergency department, see a physiotherapist, see your family doctor.

Depending on the degree of the injury that you’ve sustained may determine which of those you see first. Normally, the treatment initially is conservative. So, physiotherapy, rest, ice, elevation, getting the swelling out of the knee.

Your family doctor may order x-rays to rule out any other injuries. Sometimes the posterior cruciate ligament tear can be associated by a bony evulsion. Normally those injuries would require surgery, but not all posterior cruciate ligament injuries require surgery.

Most of them, the lower grade ones, can be rehabbed and treated just with strengthening, and you can get back to sporting activities with that. Your family doctor or your physiotherapist may recommend a brace. This would be best to be done in a custom fashion.

A custom posterior cruciate ligament brace can also be of benefit to you. If you require surgery, which is usually for the more significant posterior cruciate ligaments, the ones that have more instability in the knee, then your family doctor would likely refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.

If you think you’ve suffered a posterior cruciate ligament injury or you have any questions regarding this type of injury, seek consultation with your family doctor. Local Physiotherapist.

Presenter: Dr. Jordan Leith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Burnaby, BC

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