Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injuries

by / Friday, 26 April 2019 / Published in Blog

PCL or Posterior cruciate ligament is one of the less commonly injured ligaments of the knee. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones together and the PCL attaches to the back of the thigh bone and the back of the shin bone. It stabilizes the knee and controls how far backward the shin bone moves under the thigh bone.

The PCL is made of two thick bands of tissue – one part tightens when the knee is bent; the other part tightens as the knee straightens. This is why PCL injuries often occur when the knee is forced to straighten too far or hyperextend.

The most common PCL injuries occur due to a direct blow to the front of the knee while the knee is bent. Such injuries often occur in an auto accident or when someone falls on a bent knee.

The pain and moderate swelling from a PCL injury would usually subside in 2-4 weeks, but the knee may still feel unstable. This instability requires treatment because long-term instability can accelerate early arthritis in the knee.

PCL injuries can be diagnosed through history and physical examination. X-rays may be done to check for a knee fracture, but ligament damage does not show up on X-rays. An MRI may be ordered to diagnose ligament injuries. An arthroscopy can help to make a definitive diagnosis.

Initial treatment for a PCL injury aims to relieve pain and swelling in the knee. Rest and mild pain medications, such as acetaminophen, can alleviate these symptoms. Less severe PCL tears are usually treated with a physical therapy and rehabilitation program, along with the use of ice, electrical stimulation, and rest periods with your leg supported in elevation.