Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury - (PCL Injury)

The PCL has been described as one of the main stabilizers of the knee.  It is broader and stronger than the ACL.  It connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone).  Its function is to prevent the posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur. 

It has been reported that there is only a 2% incidence of isolated PCL tears. PCL injury commonly occurs in sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and skiing.  A forceful hyperextention of the knee or a direct blow just below the knee cap will disrupt the PCL and cause knee pain and PCL Injury.  For example, the football player who is tackled with a direct hit to the knee will hyperextend the limb and sustain a PCL Injury.  The basketball player who lands on the court directly on a bent knee will tear his PCL resulting in knee pain.  A thorough evaluation by a sports medicine specialist is needed to assess the extent of the ligament injury and the appropriate treatment options. Both examples frequently lead to knee pain which often requires knee surgery. 


The physical examination of the knee by a sports medicine specialist will determine the ligamentus structures involved and determine if it is a PCL Injury or another ligament causing the knee pain. Plain x-rays will be taken to ensure that no fracture has occurred. An MRI will be ordered to identify the extent of the ligamentus and cartilaginous injuries. There is usually swelling as well as significant tenderness to palpation of the back of the knee causing considerable knee pain. Knee surgery will usually take place after the swelling has gone down. The posterior draw test done with the knee at 90 degrees of flexion, will demonstrate a posterior shift of the tibia relative to the femur. If you are suffering from any type of knee pain including a PCL injury, the Rothman institute can help. Come in to one of our locations to discuss options today.

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