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The PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) are the two major ligaments in the knee which allow the knee to extend and flex. Pivoting and cutting sports such as football, rugby and basketball often lead to noncontact injuries such as ruptures of ACL and PCL.
The posterior cruciate ligament connects the tibia to the medial condyle of the femur. Ligaments are strong bands of muscle fiber that attach one bone to another. An athlete can injure his or her posterior cruciate ligament by experiencing a direct blow to the front of the knee, falling on a bent knee, landing awkwardly from a jump, or falling during sudden twisting motion. The typical symptoms of PCL injury include severe pain behind the knee, rapid onset of mild swelling around the affected knee, tenderness within 3-4 hours of the injury, pain with squatting or kneeling, difficulty walking, feeling of instability in the knee during activities, pain with walking up or down stairs or ramps, and bruising on the knee. Over time, the pain may worsen, making one’s knee more unstable. PCL injury can sideline a victim for several weeks or even months.
ACL and PCL Injuries
The ACL, also known as cranial cruciate ligament, connects the end of the thigh bone to the top of the shin bone along with other 3 ligaments (MCL, LCL and PCL). Anterior cruciate ligament rupture is a serious knee injury in the young athletes. An ACL tear occurs due to the over-stretching or tearing of the ligaments in the knee. ACL injuries are very common in sports that involve sudden changes of direction such as basketball, football and tennis. Other factors that may lead to an ACL injury include slowing down abruptly and twisting without moving the feet. Typical symptoms of an anterior cruciate ligament tear include hearing a “pop” sound when a tear occurs, rapid swelling and severe pain in the knee, experiencing instability with an insecure sensation while pivoting, and tenderness at the lateral joint line.
Perth Physiotherapy Treatment For ACL and PCL Injuries
Physiotherapy is often recommended to regain and build muscle strength in the knee. Slight PCL tears (Grade 1) can be treated with a combination of compression, rest, ice therapy, heat therapy and elevation. If the PCL is minimally torn (Grade II), then a treatment plan comprising of join immobilization, and an exercise routine that emphasizes in eccentric muscle contraction makes an effective way to recover from the PCL injury. If the ligament is damaged along with other ligaments or the PCL is torn completely, then operative surgery is recommended or is usually needed.
Age, associated injuries to the knee, and sports involvement are all taken into consideration by a physiotherapy expert when deciding on treatment for an ACL tear. Supervised physical therapy sessions comprising of strengthening and stretching exercises help strengthen the knee, hamstring and quadriceps muscle groups as well as the other low extremities. Healthy and strong hamstring muscles speed up the recovery process because they add stability to the injured knee. Bracing can be helpful to support the injured ligaments in the knee. With physical therapy and rehab, an athlete can return to sport in about five months.
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