PCL Tears

What is the PCL

- The PCL is the Posterior Cruciate Ligament

- PCL connects the thigh bone (Femur) to the Shinbone (Tibia)

- PCL is more prominent and stronger than the ACL

- The PCL's function is to prevent the Femur from sliding off the anterior edge of the Tibia and prevent the Tibia from displacing posterior to the Femur

Causes of PCL injury

- PCL injuries are often due to a knee blow while in a bent position.

- Injuries to the PCL are not as common as other knee ligament injuries.

- PCL injuries are often more subtle and difficult to evaluate than other ligament injuries to the knee

- PCL injuries usually occur when the front of the knee hits the dashboard in an automobile accident.

- PCL injuries can also occur when a person falls forward and lands on a bent knee. This injury is more typical in Football, Basketball, Soccer, and Rugby.


Injured ligaments are considered sprains and graded on a severity scale.

- Grade One Sprain is when a ligament is slightly damaged but can still keep the knee joint stable

- Grade Two Sprain is when the ligament stretches to the point where it becomes loose, this sometimes is referred to as a "partial tear."

- Grade Three Sprain is a complete tear of the ligament, the ligament will be in two pieces, and the knee joint is unstable.


Symptoms of a PCL Injury

- Mild or sharp pain deep inside the knee joint or back of the knee

- Pain in the knee when lifting a heavy load

- Pain when walking distances

- Tenderness of the knee

- Stiffness throughout the knee

- Slight swelling but usually much less than an ACL tear but can still be severe. The pain and swelling may dissipate after 2-4 weeks, but the instability remains.

- Long-term instability in the knee can lead to early arthritis

Testing for PCL Injuries

- Therapist will usually start by observing the palpating the knee joint for signs of injury

- Lay on the back with the knee bent, and the Doctor will examine the knee and press against the upper shin bone. If there is abnormal knee movement during the test, this could indicate a PCL injury

- Doctors can test with a device called an Arthrometer. This device presses against your leg to measure the ligament's tightness

- Abnormal walking motion could indicate a PCL injury

- X-Rays can also provide information about PCL injuries. They can detect pieces of bone that may have broken loose.

- MRI is the most common method. This method will create an image on the PCL Tear


Treatment for PCL Sprain

- Rest the injured area and stop all activity involving the injured knee

- Use Space Ice Therapy Wraps to reduce swelling. This product will allow the correct amount of blood to the injured to promote healing and reduce swelling.

- Elevate- elevate the injured area above the heart to decrease blood flow to the injured area.

- Take anti-inflammatory meds

  • NSAIDS- Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Aleve