PCL tears are likely to occur when the knee is flexed and an object strongly strikes the shin towards the back. This is called as a dashboard injury since it often occurs during vehicular collisions when the shin strikes forcefully the dashboard.
The other usual process of injury is a sports injury in which an individual falls on the anterior aspect of the knee. During this injury, the knee is overly flexed with the foot pointed downwards. These injuries strain on the PCL and if the force is too significant, a PCL tear occurs.
PCL tears are likely seen during severe trauma that can damage the knee structures. The tears can be linked with other ligament injuries including MCL tears, ACL tears and LCL tears. Additionally, the injury can be linked with cartilage damage and meniscus tear.
The posterior cruciate ligament or PCL is one of the ligaments vital in maintaining the stability of the knee joint. It is the ligament that prevents the tibia from sliding excessively backwards. Together with the ACL that keeps the tibia from sliding excessively forward, the PCL helps keep the tibia in position below the femur.
Indications of PCL tears
The usual symptoms of PCL tears are similar to ACL tears such as the following:
- Knee pain
- Diminished motion
The individual can experience a sensation that the knee popped out or gave out. Issues with knee instability in the following weeks and months after a PCL injury are not as common as instability that occurs after an ACL tear.
When an individual develops unsteadiness after sustaining a PCL injury, they have a feeling that they could not rely their knee or it seems as if it is going to give out. If this complain is an issue after sustaining a PCL tear, it might be an indication that surgery is needed.
The management of PCL tears has been a controversy and there is limited information regarding the suitable treatment for all individuals. The primary treatment for the swelling and pain involves application of ice, crutches and elevation. Once these symptoms settled, physical therapy is beneficial in improving knee movement and strength. When it comes to most cases of grade I and grade II PCL tears, non-surgical measures are opted.
The surgical reconstruction of the PCL is only required for grade III PCL tears. Due to the technical difficulty of the surgical procedure, some surgeons do not see any benefit in the reconstruction. Some believe that the reconstruction can result to improved knee stability and reduced likelihood for future issues.