Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury

A ligament present in the back of a knee joint, Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL is a group of robust tissues that connect bones. Although they are similar to ACL in functions, PCL is stronger and larger than them. PCL helps in preventing the shinbone or tibia from moving too far backward.

pcl injury

PCL injuries though not very common can be caused due to sprain or tears to the posterior ligaments due to a powerful blow to it. They usually occur in sports such as football or due to accidents.

Symptoms of PCL Injury

The main symptoms of PCL Injury include the following: -

  • Steady and quick pain along with swelling which occurs soon after the injury

  • Heavy swelling contributing to knee stiffness and limpness

  • Unstable or wobbly feeling in the knee

  • Difficulty in walking

Causes of PCL Injury

Posterior ligaments being larger and stronger require a powerful blow to be injured. A tear or sprain can occur due to the following conditions: -

  • A direct and powerful blow to the front of the knee during an accident or sports

  • Hyperextension injury or twisting caused by overstretching or pulling of ligaments

  • A misstep

PCL injuries can occur during sports such as football, baseball or volleyball. They can either be acute or chronic. Acute PCL injuries are those that happen suddenly following a mishap during sports or accidents while chronic PCL injuries develop over time after an accident.

Treatment for PCL injuries

A PCL injury can be diagnosed imaging techniques such as MRI, X-ray and following a physical examination. In case of acute PCL injuries, where other ligaments in the knee are not affected can be treated with physical therapy and rest.

PCL surgery is preferred in the following cases

  • Tear

  • Injuries to more than one ligament

  • Chronic PCL looseness in athletes

  • Displaced PCL avulsion fracture

PCL reconstruction involves procedures to replace the damaged ligaments with soft tendons collected from other parts of the body. The procedure is performed by arthroscopy – ‘keyhole’ surgery. Avulsion fractures are fixed through open technique.