Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

What is it?

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury is a condition that affects the ligaments of the knee. PCL has an essential function in knee stability which prevents the femur to forward and tibia to displace backward. The PCL injury is less common than the anterior cruciate ligament injury. It is because the posterior cruciate ligament is much stronger and broader compared to the ACL.

There are two types of the Posterior cruciate ligament injury. The first type is when there is microscopic tear in the ligament. The second type is when the tearing of the ligament is partial, and the patient feels a minor degree of instability. The treatment of the injury depends on the severity of the injury.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Causes Of Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

The tearing of the posterior cruciate ligament can occur when you fall with your knee bent or when the shinbone hits under the knee. This injury commonly occurs during:

Contact during sports- when an athlete falls on a bent knee or tackled while kneeling down which can PCL injury. This is because the shinbone is pushed down and this forces knee to move backward.

During a motor accident- this occurs when the driver or passenger knee hits the dashboard. The impact pushes the shin bone below the knee and causes the PCL to tear.


A person who has had a posterior cruciate ligament injury may overlook the problem and try to continue with their daily chores. In this case, some symptoms may develop. These includes:

  • Swollen Knee – This Occurs Within The First Hours After The Injury.
  • Knee Pains – This Occurs During The Time Of The Injury And At Times May Also Extend Down To The Calves.
  • Instability – The Victim, May Complain Of Instability Especially When Trying To Walk. The Knee Feels Like It Is Giving Way.
  • Difficulty In Walking – Due To The Knee Pain, It Becomes Difficult To Walk Especially If There Is Limping Or Much Weight Is Applied To The Injured Knee.


The physiotherapist conducts a physical examination where he or she might press the injured knee to feel its laxity (looseness) compared to the uninjured knee. The examination can also be done to look for any fluid in the knee because of the haemorrhage. The two knees are checked for any differences or abnormalities. After the physical examination, the Practitioner  may ask for more imaging tests to be certain with a degree of tear. They include:

  • MRI scan – this is a procedure that uses the radio waves to give clear visualisation on the softer tissues of the knee. The MRI image can show the clear extent of the injury.
  • Arthroscopy – this is the use of a surgical technique to see in your knee. A small camera is inserted into the knee, and the doctor uses a TV screen or a monitor screen to view the knee joint.
  • X-ray – an x-ray can detect bone fractures but it cannot be used to see the damage on ligaments.


The treatment of a posterior cruciate ligament injury depends on the extent of the injury. The treatment can also be determined by whether you have had the injury for some time or whether you just had it.

Medications – one can buy over the counter drugs that are used to relieve pain. Such drugs include naproxen sodium or ibuprofen. They can be used to reduce knee swelling and the knee pains.

  • Therapy – the doctor or the therapist can teach you some simple exercises to do to strengthen the injured knee and improve on its ability and functions.
  • Surgery – in rare cases surgery is performed. It can only be done if the injury is severe or you have had long periods of an unstable knee. The knee could feel unstable despite undergoing other rehabilitation methods.

Tips And Tricks For Managing Daily Activities

The patient is advised to mostly apply the as to speed up the recovery of the injured knee.

  • Rest – general rest helps the body to recover. Resting helps to reduce more damage on the knee for example, by reducing weight bearing to the knee.
  • Ice – you should apply ice on the injured knee for two to three days after every three to four hours for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Compression – it is also advisable to tie an elastic bandage around the knee suffering from the PLC.
  • Elevation – you should raise your knee upwards by placing a pillow under your feet.


The therapist may give you some guidance on some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your knees and leg muscles.

How Long Till I Get Better?

The PCL can take several weeks or months, but one has to follow all the requirements and remedies.