PCL Tear Symptoms (Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury)

What is a PCL tear, and how is it treated?

PCL tears are injuries of the posterior cruciate ligament, a major ligament in the knee. This type of tear typically affects individuals who engage in sports or activities that involve sudden stopping and pivoting motions, such as football, basketball, and soccer. 

The posterior cruciate ligament is one of four primary ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps stabilize the knee joint. When this ligament is torn, it can cause instability and pain, limiting the range of motion in the affected knee.

If you have had a recent injury to your knee and would like a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, schedule a consultation with our expert orthopedic doctors at OrthoNeuro. We have multiple locations in Columbus, OH. Call us today or book an appointment online! 

What Causes PCL Tears?

PCL injuries occur when the posterior cruciate ligament becomes stretched beyond its normal range of motion due to an excessive force placed on the knee joint during movement. 

This type of injury is most commonly seen in athletes participating in contact sports, such as soccer, football, and basketball. It can also occur during recreational activities or car accidents if the knee is bent suddenly and forcefully.

PCL injuries differ from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in several ways. An ACL tear can occur due to a sudden stop-and-start movement combined with turning or twisting, whereas PCL tears typically occur due to contact sports. PCL tears are less common than ACL tears since they are more resilient and less prone to injury. 

PCL Tear Symptoms

A torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is a common knee injury that can cause intense pain and difficulty performing daily activities.  

Symptoms of a torn PCL may include: 

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of motion in the knee
  • Knee instability
  • Severe pain when the affected area is bent or moved
  • The feeling of the knee giving out while walking or running 
  • A loud popping sound can be heard or felt at the time of injury 

It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have injured your PCL. Early diagnosis and treatment will help reduce pain and restore mobility. 

How Are PCL Tears Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a PCL tear requires a physical evaluation of knee ligament injuries and other knee joint problems, such as meniscus tears or other related knee conditions. 

Your doctor will likely ask you to move your knee in various ways while they watch for any instability of the knee joint or a feeling of it slipping out of place. 

Another test for diagnosing PCL tears is called ‘the bent knee test.’ This involves having you lie on your back with one knee bent and then pushing down on the knee while watching for the displacement of the knee from its normal position. If there is too much movement, it could be a sign of a PCL tear.

Your doctor might order X-rays and/or an MRI scan to help diagnose a PCL injury. An X-ray can reveal damage to bones near the knee joint, which could indicate a PCL tear due to force or trauma. An MRI can provide a better view of the knee ligaments and other knee structures, allowing your doctor to determine if there is any damage to the PCL.

Treatment for PCL Injuries

A torn PCL ligament is typically treated with a knee brace and rehabilitative exercises to strengthen the joint. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair torn ligaments or torn cartilage. 

Surgery for a torn PCL sometimes involves reattaching the torn ligament to its original position. However, it most commonly requires reconstructing the PCL. 

Recovery from PCL Injuries

The recovery process for a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Generally, it is recommended to rest and ice the affected area in order to reduce swelling and inflammation.

It may be necessary to use crutches or a brace while walking until healing has occurred. Physical therapy is often needed to restore strength and range of motion in the knee joint, as well as improve balance and coordination. 

When to Seek Medical Advice for a PCL Tear?

It is essential for individuals with posterior cruciate ligament injuries to seek medical advice as soon as possible in order to minimize long-term damage and get back on their feet sooner. Prompt diagnosis and early treatment of torn cruciate ligaments are key to promoting good recovery outcomes. 

OrthoNeuro is here to help! We have locations in the Greater Columbus area. Give us a call today and begin your road to recovery with us!

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