It can be a difficult task to determine if an individual has a torn ligament. The ligament in the leg is called as the posterior cruciate ligament. This has two parts that combines into a single structure and is similar in size as the pinky finger. In the rear part of the knee is where the posterior cruciate ligament lies and it prevents the tibia from moving back too far. In most cases, pain will not manifest in the leg, but in the knee instead.
Assessing a torn ligament in the leg
Analyze the posterior cruciate ligament for possible damage. There is no popping sound at the time when the injury sustained just like in an ACL tear. The symptoms are usually mild or vague. The injured knee can sag backwards once it is bent or can slide backwards too far. After some time, the symptoms will become more noticeable as the pain starts to worsen. If other areas of the knee are also affected, the symptoms will become more severe.
Signs of a torn ligament in the leg
If the posterior cruciate ligament has been injured, there is swelling or tenderness in the knee that will manifest within three hours after the injury was sustained. The swelling can also cause stiffness as well as pain if squatting or kneeling, running or climbing up stairs or ramps. There is also a certain degree of instability in the knee and a slight limp or mild to moderate pain in the affected knee.
Causes and risk factors of a torn ligament
The ligament can tear if the individual hits his/her shinbone on a hard surface, falling on the knee when it is bent or the shinbone is bent backward excessively. Take note that the posterior cruciate ligament can also tear during sports, especially contact sports such as football or soccer and even during vehicular accidents.
Treatment for a torn ligament
- Rest the affected limb by avoiding any weight for 48 hours.
- Ice the affected areas as soon as possible after the injury was sustained and continue the application for 15-20 minutes several times in a day for the initial 48 hours or until the swelling subsides.
- Compress the area using a bandage or elastic wrap.
- Elevate the affected rea higher than the heart if possible to minimize the swelling.
After two days after the injury, the individual must gently use the affected area. For pain relief, over-the-counter medications for pain such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given.
When to consult a doctor
If the individual decides to consult a doctor, the knee will be examined and a diagnosis is confirmed through tests such as an X-ray or MRI. The MRI can provide the doctor with a detailed image of the posterior cruciate ligament. As for the X-ray of the knee, it shows if the ligament tore off a piece of the bone.