The knee has four major ligaments, which help stabilize, support and strengthen the knee joint – the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).
The ACL and the PCL connect the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). However, the PCL is larger and stronger, and located at the back of the knee, whereas the ACL is located at the front. The PCL holds the shin bone in place, helping to prevent it from slipping over the thigh bone – leading to buckling or locking of the knee.
There are a multitude of causes or factors associated with a PCL injury, such as falling or sustaining a blow to the knee while it is bent, which may happen during an automobile accident (dashboard injury), misstep or while participating in certain sports (football, skiing, soccer, etc.). If injured, the ligament can stretch or tear and result in mild to severe damage, with acute or chronic symptoms. According to recent statistics, PCL tears account for less than 20% of all knee ligament injuries. In some instances, PCL injuries may damage other ligaments or cartilage in the knee, and/or the ligament may break a piece of underlying bone loose.
PCL signs and symptoms of an injury may include:
- Instability – the knee may feel loose.
- Difficulty walking or when bearing weight on the knee.
- Pain or stiffness in the knee joint.
- Swelling in the knee.
- Tenderness in the back of the knee.
PCL injuries are classified according to a Grading system, each requiring specific therapies and treatment:
Grade I: The PCL has a slight tear or may be stretched or pulled, but is still able to stabilize the knee joint.
Grade II: An isolated injury, in which the PCL ligament is partially torn and becomes loose. The knee may be somewhat unstable at times.
Grade III: The PCL is completely torn, and the knee is unstable.
Grade IV: In addition to the PCL damage, another ligament in the knee is damaged.
If you suspect a PCL injury, it is important to have it evaluated by your doctor, and if necessitated treatment. If left undiagnosed and untreated – pain, swelling and damage may worsen. Your doctor may order an MRI – a painless, noninvasive diagnostic tool, to determine the extent and location of the PCL tear, and if other ligaments or cartilage are damaged.
At Dynamic Medical Imaging in Union, NJ we offer an Upright MRI, the only Upright MRI in the area, to provide vital diagnostic testing – accurately and comfortably. Diagnostic benefits of an Upright MRI include the ability to see more pathology than with recumbent, lying down scanners.
Dynamic Medical Imaging, leading experts in personal injury imaging, offers 3D MRI Rendering – the creation of a 3 dimensional digital model from standardized MRI study. This is accomplished by using the latest technology to ‘stack’ the highly detailed, thin, slice cross-sectional images from the MRI to generate the 3D model. Higher resolution, crisp images, additional angles, and details provide vital information for treatment.