PCL Injury

What is a PCL Injury?

PCL stands for posterior cruciate ligament, and it is the counterpart to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Both the PCL and ACL help hold your knee in place. A PCL injury involves a tear that can make your knee unstable and painful.

How Does it Happen?

Most often, a PCL injury occurs if you fall on a bent knee or if you sustain a blow to your shinbone. These kinds of injuries can happen when you play sports or if you are in a car accident.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Usually a PCL injury is not as painful as an ACL injury, but it can still hurt. Here are some symptoms:

  • Pain in the knee, especially when running or taking the stairs
  • Swelling of the knee soon after an injury
  • Having a limp or difficulty walking
  • Feeling pain when you kneel or squat

How is it Diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical examination of your knee, but imaging tests will be needed to clearly diagnose the problem. You may have an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Or your doctor may use arthroscopy to look inside your knee.

How is it Treated?

Depending on how severe your injury is, treatment options will vary. For mild cases, you may feel better with anti-inflammatory medications that help reduce the swelling and relieve pain. Another option is removing fluid from the knee (via syringe) to reduce swelling and increase range of motion. Your doctor may also suggest physical therapy, which will help you learn exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knee.

If your condition is more severe, your doctor may suggest surgery. This is especially true if you have torn ligaments and cartilage damage. Surgery can help repair and reconstruct your knee.

What is the Prognosis?

If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to control your pain through medication and physical therapy. You may have to be careful about your activities and avoid any pressure on your knee. If you have surgery, you may need several weeks to recover.