Torn PCL – Posterior Cruciate Ligament

In a heroic and valiant attempt to secure a win for my Monday night softball team I:

  1. Hit a Double
  2. Slid into Home and stopping 2 feet shy resulting in an out.
  3. Lost the game by about 20 runs or so.
  4. Tore my PCL. (this happened during that slide)

What is a PCL?

Before I tell you about the baby brother of the ACL, anterior crucial ligament.  I first need to tell you I suffered from major patellar tendonitis and just finally recovered from that.  I recently was able to run the bases and even trail run with my wife without any pain in my right knee.  So this story, while educational is really upsetting to write. :-/

Ok so about the PCL, posterior cruciate ligament, and what that means on my fitness goals and exercising habits.

PCLThe PCL is a ligament.  A ligament is a piece of tissue that connects bone to bone.  This ligament connects from the posterior intercondylar area of the tibia to the medial condyle of the femur.  Sweet now that you are confused just reference the sweet picture I found.  Basically it goes from the back of the tibia, lower leg bone, to the middle of femur, the upper leg bone.  The major purpose of this ligament is to prevent your tibia from sliding, translating, backward or posteriorly.

So how did this actually happen and how do you tear a PCL?

PCL tear positionWell typically a PCL is torn by having your knee bent at about 90 degrees.  Then some force is applied to your upper shin area around the knee and below the patella, knee cap.  Ok now for an example.  Imagine driving your car and you rear-end someone hard enough that your dashboard smashed you in the knee area, PAINFUL!  See knees bent and you have a force to the knee area.

figurre four slideWell mine was similar, but not as dramatic.  I was coming from 2nd to home and tried to slide feet first into the bag.  I was sliding using the figure 4 technique where my left leg was bending under my right outstretched leg.  (see photo) I ended up catching my left cleat on the ground in some soft dirt and it basically rolled my whole body to the left.  Not sure how this next part all happened, but I ended up landing on my left knee just under the knee cap and it was bent, exactly like the car thing.  I got up and my knee hurt, but it wasn’t anything crazy.  I just thought it was from the impact of landing.  After walking on it a bit I felt like my lower leg was going to fall off my leg.  It felt all “wonky.”  That is my medical term for it.  I knew something was wrong.  After teaching my wife a few exams and seeing a few doctors it was confirmed that my PCL was torn.  Typically this type of injury takes a lot of force so I attribute it to the fact that I am lightning fast!  You can be the judge of that.

Do I need surgery for a PCL tear?

This is a fun fact.  Unlike an ACL tear a PCL tear doesn’t require surgery.  In fact more than 70% of PCL tears don’t ever have any complications.  There is surgical options, but that is usually if the PCL tear is combined with medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL), ACL or meniscus tears that are requiring surgery also.  So the answer to the question is – – – I DON’T NEED SURGERY!

So what does rehab look like?

Don Joy SE 4 combination instability braceWell because I don’t have the PCL anymore I have to strengthen my quads.  Remember the PCL prevents my tibia, shin bone, from sliding backward.  Therefore, if I strengthen my quads I can effectively use them to keep my tibia from sliding backward during activity.  I will also be using a Don Joy knee braced designed to prevent instability for daily activities.  Initially I will wear the brace during every day activities until the joint capsule heals.  This can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months.  Hopefully I can be patient enough to give it the rest it needs!

So there you have it.  I hope to keep you updated on my recovery.  If you have questions about a PCL tear let me know.  I mean I have a degree in the stuff so I am somewhat of an expert, but after this recovery process I will be a full blown expert.

 

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