The PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) can be located on the back of your knee and connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The PCL stops the shinbone from moving too far backwards.
What is a PCL injury?
A PCL injury describes any damage to the ligament including partial or complete ruptures.
The PCL is regarded as one of the most important knee ligaments, providing stability. It prevents excessive straightening and twisting of the knee and any backward movement of the tibia.
The PCL ligament injury can be categorised into 3 grades:
Grade 1: mild damage
Grade 2: partial ligament tear
Grade 3: complete ligament tear
What causes a PCL injury?
When a force placed on the PCL is excessive, it can cause a tear or strain. PCL tears generally occur suddenly from a particular incident however sometimes a PCL injury can occur due to repetitive strain.
There are 3 main movements that cause stress on the PCL:
- Hyperextension of the knee
- Knee twisting
- The tibia moving backwards on the femur
What are the symptoms of a PCL injury?
There are a few different symptoms of a PCL injury:
- A snap or tear when the injury occurs
- Pain when walking- often felt deep within your knee or on the rear aspect of your knee
- Instability at the knee joint
- A feeling of weakness at the knee
- Movement restrictions with pain
In less serious cases following the injury you may be able to continue with the activity you’re doing with an increase in swelling, stiffness and pain.
How is a PCL injury diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist can carry out a thorough knee assessment to diagnose whether you have injured your PCL. Your doctor may refer you for an MRI scan to confirm diagnosis and to see if any other structures have been damaged.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a PCL injury?
The treatment for a PCL injury depends on the severity of the injury and whether or not surgery has been required. Once you have been assessed, your physiotherapist will choose the most appropriate treatment methods based on your symptoms and response to different treatments.
Treatment options for a PCL injury include:
- Functional activities based on everyday activities
- Progressive strengthening exercises
- Ice/heat therapy
- Balance training
- Range of movement exercises
- Strengthening exercises
Benefit of physiotherapy for a PCL injury
Physiotherapy is paramount when you are recovering from a PCL injury in order to effectively rehabilitate your knee and stop the injury from happening again. The particular benefits you receive from physiotherapy will depend on your original symptoms and treatment goals.
Physiotherapy leads to:
- Reduced pain
- Reduced swelling
- Improved range of movement
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved balance and proprioception
- Enhanced general fitness
- Promotion of healing and a quicker return to sports
- Promotion of independence with activities of daily living