Posterior Cruciate Ligament, abbreviated as PCL, is one of the major ligaments of the knee. A ligament is a strong band of connective tissues that make the knee stable.
The PCL and the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) work together but in opposite direction. PCL runs from the back (posterior) phase of the shinbone, also called the tibia or lower leg bone, to the front (anterior) phase of the thighbone, also referred to as femur or upper bone.
The PCL helps to control the back and forth motion of the knee. PCL injuries are not common because the PCL is the strongest ligament in the knee and is not damaged easily. PCL injuries may be partial, complete, or isolated, which means the PCL may get injured not alone but with other ligaments.
A PCL injury may occur due to hyperextension of the knee joint. Hyperextension means overextending the knee in a backward motion. It may get damaged by smashing the knee in a car accident or by landing in an awkward manner after a jump. After injury, the knee may swell up and there would be pain and ache in the space behind the knee. There may be joint pain and the patient may feel that the knee is not stable at all and is going to give out.
Non-operative treatment is suggested if the injury is partial or isolated. Rest and mild pain medication, ice, crutches, knee braces, elevating the joint, manual therapy treatments, and electrical stimulation can help in reducing the symptoms of PCL injury. Exercises may also help in reducing the pain by warming up the knee, but you should always speak to your physician prior to doing activities when your knee is hurt.
Surgical reconstruction is only suggested when other ligaments also get injured with the PCL or when the pain and instability remains even after 3 to 4 weeks has passed. Arthroscopy is used for surgery to examine the structure of the knee.
Surgical reconstruction is very complicated in PCL injuries because of the position of PCL in the knee. The torn ends of the PCL can first be removed and then a new PCL graft is placed in the position of the PCL. This is why surgical reconstruction is very difficult and is recommended only when other ligaments are also injured and the patient cannot perform daily routine activities. Patients may also use a CPM machine (abbreviation of Continuous Passive Motion) machine after surgery to help the knee in moving and to eradicate the pain.
When hurting any of the ligaments in your knee it is wise to consider getting a knee brace for support. These braces, when well designed can help to reduce knee pain and provide meaningful support that can promote healing of the knee.
This is the only basic information that everyone should know about PCL. Anyone having PCL injury must be taken to the physician.
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