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Uncommon Knee Injury Easily Missed on Diagnosis

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What often happens with the PCL is that, once it tears, "it scars and scars the structures around it, and it almost self-heals, if you will," Gotlin explains. "People who have loose knees or tight knees with the PCL do equally well, and [this] study shows that."

"The most appropriate treatment is not an operation, but to manage any new swelling and to get full range of motion. Once full range of motion is attained, work on getting the quadriceps and hamstrings strengthened," Shelbourne explains.

There is no way to prevent this type of knee injury. Gotlin encourages athletes to exercise in a way that will strengthen and stretch the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. They should also learn to land in a spring-like fashion, with both the knees and waist bent.

The good news is that PCL injuries do heal. "These patients generally end up with good knees, but not great knees," Shelbourne says.

Vital Information:

  • PCL injuries most often occur in runners who stop short after sprinting or who fall on their knee.
  • Most patients who have this type of injury do not need surgery and can return to their normal activities.
  • Physicians often misdiagnose PCL injuries, but using the posterior drawer test is an effective way to make an accurate diagnosis.

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