PCL Injury

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A PCL Injury is a tear or sprain in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) of the knee. The posterior cruciate ligament, together with its counterpart the anterior cruciate ligament, holds the bones of the knee together and make it possible for the knee to bear weight. Symptoms of a PCL tear or sprain include pain and swelling around the knee. Treatment of a PCL tear or sprain will likely include rest to allow the ligament to heal naturally. Ice, compression and elevation of the knee are also common PCL injury treatments.

Typical Causes Of A PCL Injury

Common causes of a PCL injury are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents in which the occupant of a front seat slams his or her knee against the dashboard;
  • Contact sports in which an athlete falls onto a bent knee or is tackled by another player.

Symptoms OF A Torn PCL

PCL tears or sprains are actually far less common than ACL tear or sprain injuries. In addition, they are usually less painful. However, a PCL Injury can still cause pain and swelling of the knee, together with difficulty walking. In more serious cases, you will also experience knee instability (feeling as though your knee will “give away” when you try to place weight on it).

Initially, if there are no other injuries, the symptoms of a PCL injury may be so mild that you may not even notice any trouble with your knee. Over time, the symptoms may become more severe and instability may develop.


To treat your PCL Injury, your doctor may recommend:

  • Resting the knee and allowing the damaged pcl to recover naturally. Consider using crutches or a wheelchair to take your weight off your knee;
  • Using ice and/or pain relief medications to ease the pain;
  • If the pain and swelling are severe, using NSAID medications for additional pain relief;
  • Wearing a knee brace like one of those shown below to give the knee additional support and promote proper healing of the injury;
  • Keeping the knee elevated above heart level as much as possible (while sitting or lying down);
  • Wearing a wrap or knee sleeve to apply compression to the knee. Some knee braces can offer both support and compression in an “all in one” solution.

If your injury is a severe one (e.g. complete ligament rupture) your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem. He or she may also suggest this option if the PCL injury does not respond to the conservative treatments mentioned above.

Expect to spend 3-4 weeks recovering from a moderate PCL injury. However, if it is more severe ( a tear or rupture, with knee instability present) your recovery may take as long as 8-12 weeks.

Once your knee shows progress towards recovery, you should ask your physiotherapist to devise a program of exercises and stretches to improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. Following this program will help to ensure a rapid and complete recovery.

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