What is a PCL Knee injury?

A PCL injury is a sprain or tear of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The PCL is a band of tissue that crosses inside the centre of the knee joint. It connects your thigh bone to the bone of your lower leg. The PCL keeps your knee stable when it moves forward or backward.

Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, discusses PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) knee injuries

Quiz: Do You Understand PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:

Questions
True
False
1

Symptoms of a PCL tear can include trouble bearing weight on the knee.

Explanation:
Patients may not even realize they’ve suffered a PCL sprain or tear. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, trouble bearing weight on the knee or walking and a feeling of wobbliness in the knee.
2

The RICE method is not a good treatment for a PCL injury.

Explanation:
Depending on the degree of the injury that you’ve sustained, your healthcare provider will recommend physiotherapy, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, pain medication, bracing or surgery.
3

A knee brace can be helpful when you're recovering from a PCL injury.

Explanation:
Most lower-grade PCL injuries can be rehabbed and treated with strengthening through physiotherapy and exercise, often while wearing a knee brace.
4

Surgery is never an option for a PCL injury.

Explanation:
A significant posterior cruciate ligament injury may require surgery. There is a less invasive procedure that may be an option: arthroscopic knee surgery.
5

If you need surgery, recovery can take up to 52 weeks.

Explanation:
Recovery after a PCL injury generally takes up to six weeks, but if you require surgery, it can take up to 52 weeks.
(Answer all questions to activate)

What is a Combined PCL and PLC Knee Ligament Injury

A combined posterior cruciate ligament, posterior lateral corner injury is a significant knee injury that occurs in trauma such as motor vehicle accidents and athletic injuries. It’s more significant than an anterior cruciate ligament, than a meniscus tear, than a posterior cruciate ligament injury in isolate.

And what it involves, looking at a model of the knee, you have your kneecap, you’ve got your femur or your thighbone. You’ve got your tibia, your shinbone. You’ve got the lateral side of the knee, and you’ve got the medial side of the knee and seeing a local physiotherapist or massage therapist could be beneficial .

And looking into the knee, we’ve got the anterior cruciate ligament, which passes from medial to lateral, and behind it, we’ve got the posterior cruciate ligament, which can be seen just behind the ACL, passing from lateral to medial.

Looking from the back of the knee, you can see the posterior cruciate ligament passing form lateral to medial. In addition, the posterior lateral corner component of this injury involves the lateral side of the knee.

On the lateral side of the knee, you’ve got the lateral collateral ligament passing from the fibula, the small bone on the outside part of your knee, up to the femur. There are a number of other structures in this posterior lateral corner, which include the popliteus tendon, and a popliteal fibular ligament.

When you injure this posterior lateral corner, it is all stretched out or ruptured, depending on the degree of the injury. And as a result, you have more instability and rotatory instability to the knee with this injury.

Because they’re a higher energy injury, usually you should go to the emergency department first. It’s usually pretty obvious that you’ve got a significant injury. And so going to the emergency department first, probably obtaining a knee brace to help stabilize you initially in the acute period, followed by physiotherapy to help get your range of motion back.

Consultation with your family doctor, followed by a referral to an orthopedic surgeon would be the algorithm for treatment of this more significant knee injury.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a PCL posterior lateral corner injury, seek consultation with your family doctor or get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

Presenter: Dr. Jordan Leith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Vancouver, BC

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