The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of the two cruciate ligaments of the knee. It resides just behind the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the center of the knee. It is partially responsible for stability of the knee, and it is directly responsible for preventing the tibia (shin bone) from being displaced behind the femur (thigh bone). While a PCL injury is much less common than injury to the ACL, this injury is being recognized more frequently in sports.

Mechanism of injury

Among the ways an athlete may injure his PCL in sports include landing on his knee with his foot plantarflexed, or pointing down. He could be hit on the front of his knee at the top of his tibia. He could also hyperextend his knee. While these injuries can occur by themselves, they can also occur in a manner in which multiple ligaments are torn. Often the orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon will order an MRI to determine if this is an isolated injury or one in which multiple ligaments and even other structures are injured, such as meniscal tears.

Also read:
PCL Injuries rehab vs. repair.
Which brace is best for a PCL Injury.

Treatment of a PCL injury

Treatment depends on the nature of the entire injury. Occasionally, isolated injuries to the PCL can be treated nonoperatively. In this situation, aggressive rehabilitation, especially emphasizing quadriceps strengthening, is enough to return the athlete back to sports. Combined injuries, such as ACL and PCL injuries, or PCL and posterolateral corner injuries, often require surgical treatment. Occasionally surgery involves repair of the ligament when it has pulled a piece of bone off the ligament attachment. More often, surgery involves reconstruction of the ligament, meaning that tissue from the athlete’s knee or a cadaver knee is used to make a new PCL.

This is typically a very significant injury, whether treated operatively or nonoperatively, that can take a long time for the athlete to recover and get back to sports. Rehabilitation can take many months even if surgery is not performed. If surgery is performed, it can often take six to nine months to get back to sports.

MRI showing a PCL injury of the knee

Discover The Solution To Your Biggest Knee Injury Challenge Even If You Have No Medical Knowledge and You’ve Looked Everywhere and Haven’t Been Able To Find an Answer!
Click here to learn more!

Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.