A strain or sprain of the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) of the knee occurs when there has been some type of trauma to the knee joint, which causes damage to the ligament. Common causes of ACL/PCL injury include direct contact to the knee, rapid change in direction during sports activities, and falls.
ACL/PCL strains or sprains are usually diagnosed through physical examination, imaging studies such as an X-ray or MRI, and a patient’s history of the injury. The physical exam typically involves assessing the range of motion, stability of the knee joint, and whether there is any swelling or tenderness on the affected area. Imaging studies can help to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential injuries.
It is important to consider other potential causes of knee pain, such as a meniscal tear, anterior or posterior knee dislocation, or a patellar tendon tear.
Treatment for an ACL/PCL injury typically depends on the severity of the injury. For mild sprains or strains, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) can be helpful in reducing pain and swelling. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligament.
The prognosis for ACL/PCL strains and sprains depends on the severity of the injury. For mild strains or sprains, the recovery time is usually anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. For more severe injuries, the recovery time can take several months and may require several months of physical therapy.