Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) prevents the tibia (shin bone) from moving backwards relative to the femur (thigh bone).  Injuries to this ligament tend to occur when the knee is bent and the upper leg moves forwards relative to the lower leg, such as when it collides with a car dashboard or a person.

Injury to this structure may not cause many symptoms.  There may be pain in the back of the knee with squatting or kneeling, a slight limp, or loss of the full range of knee flexion.  With chronic injury to the PCL, there may be problems using stairs or ramps.

The principles of therapy are rest, ice, compression, elevation, medications and protection.  Often crutches are recommended if weight bearing causes pain, but otherwise crutches are not necessary.  Return to light duty activity is ok soon after an injury.

Most PCL injuries do not occur by themselves.  They are often associated with meniscus injuries or other trauma to the knee.  They are also difficult to distinguish from other ligament injuries to the knee.  When the PCL is injured, there is often no pop sensation, just a vague feeling of discomfort.