PCL injuries are uncommon and more challenging to detect compared to other knee ligament injuries. Cartilage and bone bruises, as well as ligament injuries, frequently occur in conjunction with PCL injuries. These injuries can be classified as grade I, II, or III, depending on the severity. A grade I injury results in mild ligament damage and slight stretching, but the knee joint remains stable. A grade II injury causes partial tearing of the ligament, while a grade III injury causes complete tearing of the ligament, resulting in the knee joint's instability.
Direct impact, such as in an automobile accident when the bent knee strikes the dashboard forcefully, is the usual cause of PCL injury. In sports, a PCL injury can occur when an athlete falls to the ground with a bent knee or overextends the knee, resulting in a twisting injury.
Patients with a PCL injury often experience immediate knee pain and swelling, along with knee stiffness and joint instability.
Diagnosing a PCL tear involves a physical examination of the knee, a review of the patient's medical history, and a discussion of symptoms. X-rays and MRI scans may also be necessary to rule out avulsion fractures and view soft tissue images more clearly, respectively.
Treatment options for PCL injuries include surgical and non-surgical approaches. Non-surgical treatments may include the RICE protocol, physical therapy, knee braces, and crutches. Surgical treatment is typically reserved for patients with a dislocated knee and multiple torn ligaments, including the PCL. The surgical procedure involves reconstructing the torn ligament using a tissue graft from another part of the patient's body or a donor cadaver. Surgery is usually performed using arthroscopy, resulting in minimal postoperative pain, a brief hospital stay, and a fast recovery. Rehabilitation programs are typically started after PCL reconstruction surgery, and complete recovery can take up to 6-12 months.