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Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

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Diagnosing PCL Problems continued...

History. Your doctor will ask what you were doing when the injury occurred, such as traveling in a car or playing a sport. He or she will also ask:

  • If your knee was bent, straight, or twisted when it was injured
  • How your knee felt after the injury
  • If you've had any symptoms since you were injured

Physical examination. In a common test for PCL injuries, you lie on your back with your knee bent. Your doctor then examines your knee and presses against your upper shin. Abnormal knee movement during this test suggests a PCL injury.

You may also be checked with a device called an arthrometer. This presses against your leg to measure the ligament's tightness.

Your doctor may also ask you to walk. An abnormal walking motion may point to a PCL injury.

Imaging. X-rays can provide information about a PCL injury. They can detect pieces of bone that may have broken loose from the injury.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common way to create images of a PCL tear. An MRI can find the exact location of a tear.

Home Treatment of a Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

For initial treatment of a PCL injury, the approach known as PRICE may be helpful. This includes:

  • Protecting the knee from further injury
  • Resting the knee
  • Icing the knee for short periods with cold packs
  • Compressing the knee gently, such as with an elastic bandage
  • Elevating the knee

A pain-relieving medication may also be needed for knee pain.

Nonsurgical Treatment of Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

You can recover from some posterior cruciate ligament injuries without surgery.

Cases that may not require surgery include:

  • Acute grade I or II injuries when no other knee ligaments are injured
  • Newly diagnosed chronic injuries that only affect the PCL and aren't causing symptoms

Some people need to go through physical therapy after a PCL injury. This rehabilitation may be necessary with or without surgery.

Rehabilitation may include:

  • Using crutches at first, then gradually walking with more weight on the knee
  • Having a machine or therapist move your leg through its range of motion
  • Temporarily wearing a knee brace for support
  • Strengthening your thigh muscles to help make the knee more stable
  • Walking or running in a pool or on a treadmill
  • Specific training needed for a sport

 

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