CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: Injury: Posterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

Injuries and Conditions: Knee: Posterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

A PCL injury occurs when the posterior cruciate ligament becomes damaged through a pull, twist, tear or other disruption of the knee. An injured PCL reduces stability in the knee and decreases support to the knee joint during athletic activity.
  • Injuries can vary in severity, ranging from a minor sprain to a complete tear or rupture of the ligament.
  • Because of the force mechanism necessary to rupture the PCL, isolated complete PCL tears are not common. These complete tears occur more frequently in combination with injuries to other ligaments of the knee.
  • Injuries usually occur during an activity when there is a direct blow to the knee, especially while the knee is bent and the foot planted.
  • Less serious injuries are treatable with physical therapy and bracing, whereas a completely torn ligament will likely require surgery.
  • PCL surgery rebuilds the ligament using part of the patellar tendon to reconstruct the injured ligament.

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Considerable pain in the knee that does not go away within the first few hours after the injury.
  • A feeling of looseness in the knee.
  • Immediate (usually within 24 hours) swelling of the knee.
  • A feeling of unsteadiness and a tendency for the knee to "give way", or an inability to bear weight on the injured leg.
  • An audible "pop" or the perception of something snapping or breaking at the moment of injury.
  • A feeling of fullness or tightness in the knee.

    Contact the Doctor if ...
  • The patient has the signs and symptoms of an injured PCL.
  • After treatment, Patient experiences increasing pain or weakness in the joint.
  • The patient experiences unexplained symptoms, other types of pain, or unexpected side effects of medication.

  • Common Causes of Injury
  • PCL injuries usually occur during athletic activities and are common in running, jumping or during sudden twisting, turning or stopping movements.
  • The injury is frequently associated with the sports of skiing, football, basketball, and soccer.

  • Expectations of Recovery
  • With proper care, most patients can expect a full recovery from an injured PCL.
  • Patients with less severe injuries may recover without surgery, using physical therapy to recondition the knee.
  • Patients with severe injuries, which require surgery, are also likely to return to previous levels of athletic activity; rehabilitation is demanding and recovery time can last longer than six months.


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