A ligament is a band of tissue that connects a bone to another bone. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located inside your knee joint and connects the bones of your upper and lower leg.
A PCL injury occurs when the ligament is stretched or torn. A partial PCL tear occurs when only part of the ligament is torn. A complete PCL tear occurs when the entire ligament is torn into two pieces.
The PCL is one of several ligaments that keep your knee stable. The PCL helps keep your leg bones in place and allows your knee to move back and forth. It is the strongest ligament in the knee. PCL tears often occur as a result of a severe knee injury.
Injuring the PCL takes a lot of force. It can occur if you:
PCL injuries commonly occur with other knee damage, including injuries to the nerves and blood vessels. Skiers and people who play basketball, football, or soccer are more likely to have this type of injury.
With a PCL injury, you may have:
After examining your knee, the doctor may order these imaging tests:
If you have a PCL injury, you may need:
If you have a severe injury, such as a knee dislocation, you will need knee surgery to repair the joint. For milder injuries, you may not need surgery. A lot of people can live and function normally with a torn PCL. However, if you are younger, having a torn PCL and instability of your knee may lead to arthritis as you age. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
Follow R.I.C.E. to help reduce pain and swelling:
You can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) helps with pain, but not swelling. You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
If you have surgery to repair your PCL:
If you do not have surgery to repair your PCL:
Call your provider if:
If you have surgery, call the doctor if you have:
For any knee pain or injury affecting your daily activities, call 1-855-NH-SPORT to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic sports medicine specialists.