The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of four main ligaments in your knee. These four ligaments work together to limit excess movement in your knee joint.
A PCL injury occurs when you damage or tear the posterior cruciate ligament.
The main cause of PCL injuries is a high-force impact to the knee — often from a car accident or contact sports such as:
PCL injuries can also occur in non-contact sports — such as gymnastics or skiing — but are less common.
Athletes that play contact sports are at a higher risk of PCL injuries.
To make an appointment or learn more about sports-related PCL injuries, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).
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Unlike the “pop” and severe pain that may occur with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an isolated PCL tear may simply cause swelling and mild pain in the knee. These symptoms subside over a few days or weeks.
If you've torn the PCL and one or more other knee ligaments, symptoms might include:
To diagnose a PCL tear, your doctor will first ask you how the knee injury occurred and what position your leg was in at the time of injury.
After taking a thorough history, the doctor will perform an exam on your knee to assess the stability of the ligaments.
He or she may also order tests — such as x-rays and an MRI scan of the knee — to get a clear picture of the extent of damage to your PCL.
Treatment for a PCL injury depends on:
At UPMC Sports Medicine, nonsurgical PCL tear treatment involves exercises designed to improve:
You doctor may also suggest that you:
Unfortunately, most PCL tears happen during sports or accidents that you often can't prevent.
But, these tips may help you avoid a PCL injury:
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