Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligaments (PCL)

Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligaments (PCL) make up less than 20% of injuries to knee ligaments.  PCL connects the thighbone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia).  The PCL is stronger then the ACL, but can still be torn. However, it is much less common than a torn ACL .

Torn PCL
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Torn PCL

Symptoms of Torn PCL

  • Pain – Mild to moderate pain in the knee which may cause a slight limp or difficulty walking.
  • Swelling – Knee swelling occurs rapidly, within a few hours of the injury.
  • Instability – Knee may feel loose and feel like it may give away
  • Mild pain at the back of the knee that gets worse when you kneel
  • Pain in the front of the knee when you run or try to slow down. This may not occur until one to two weeks after the injury occured
  • Possible bruising
  • It is possible that a PCL tear will not have much of an impact on daily activities.

Torn PCL Causes

  • Usually occurs when the tibia is hit by an outside force while the leg is bent. Examples of activities that may result in a PCL tear are listed below:
    • Falling on the shins
    • Tackled in football
    • Hitting dashboard in a motor vehicle accident
    • Hyper extension of the knee

Torn PCL Diagnosis

  • Major factor is knowledge about how the injury occurred
  • Posterior Drawer Test
    • With the knee bent, the physician will push the tibia backwards to stress the PCL. If the PCL is deficient or torn, the tibia will slide too far backwards.  This will indicate an injury to the PCL.

Torn PCL Treatment

  • Several different treatments exist for a PCL injury
  • Initial treatment is to elevate the leg and use an Artex SafeTherapy wrap to decrease swelling and reduce pain. Crutches can be used to limit the weight placed on the knee.
  • Surgery may be needed if injury is severe or combined with other torn ligaments.
  • Follow the RICE Method
    • Rest- Stay off the injured knee and protect it
    • Ice- Instead of ice, use the doctor recommended Artex SafeTherapy Wrap for the knee. This will avoid any possible skin damage from the ice.
    • Compression- Use the Artex SafeTherapy Knee Wrap to apply compression to injured Knee. This will help reduce the swelling around the knee.
    • Elevation- Lie down and place pillow under your knee to help reduce swelling.


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