Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury is a painful knee injury that happens when one of the ligaments on the inside of the knee is overstretched. Only 3% to 20% of knee ligament injuries are PCL injuries (most of the time, it tends to be either meniscal tears or anterior cruciate ligament ACL tears).
Accidents, such as hitting the knee against the dashboard during a car collision, or falling onto a bent knee, are common causes of PCL injuries but forceful straightening of the knee can also injure the PCL.
Athletes who play sports, such as football and soccer, and skiers can experience PCL injuries.
A newer source of PCL injury is the trend among dancers to land on the front of their shinbone from a high leap.
Our senior physiotherapists treat PCL injuries to help
The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is a thick band of tissue deep inside the knee that connects our thigh bone (femur bone) to the shin bone (tibia bone).
What the PCL does is that it prevents our shin bone from sliding too far backward under the thigh bone. Any force that pushes the shinbone backward under the thighbone can cause a PCL injury.
Typical PCL injuries are
Knee injuries that tear the PCL often damage other ligaments or cartilage in the knee. In fact, a PCL injury can also break a piece of bone loose within the knee. PCL injuries can either happen quickly—with a blunt force injury to the knee—or slowly, as the ligament is stressed over time.
With an injured PCL, you may experience:
PCL injuries sometimes do not cause a "popping" sound or sensation when they first occur, and for that reason, people may not be sure of the exact time of their injury.
If you see our senior physiotherapists first, we will conduct a thorough evaluation that includes taking your health history.
We will also ask you detailed questions about your injury, such as:
We also will perform special tests to help determine the likelihood that you have a PCL injury.
We will gently press on the front of your knee to determine if the ligament feels loose, and may perform additional tests to determine if other parts of your knee are injured. We will also observe how you are walking (if the joint is stable or not, if there is limping or not, balance etc).
To provide a definitive diagnosis, we may collaborate with an orthopedic physician or other health care provider, who may order further tests, such as an x-ray, to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out other damage to the knee, including
We will work with you to design a specific treatment program that will speed your recovery, including exercises you can do at home. Physical therapy will help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities. The time it takes to heal the condition varies, but improvement is generally noted over 4 to 12 weeks.
During the first 24 to 48 hours following your injury, we may advise you to:
Your physical therapist will work with you over time to:
Reduce Pain and Reduce Swelling
We will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in the knee and leg. These might begin with passive motions that your physical therapist performs for you to gently move your leg and knee joint, and progress to active exercises and stretches that you do yourself.
We will determine if any of your leg muscles or knee joint are tight, and teach you how to stretch them with gentle exercise.
Certain exercises will aid healing at each stage of recovery; we will choose and teach you the correct exercises and equipment to steadily restore your strength and agility.
These may include the use of
Regaining your sense of balance is important after an injury. We will teach you exercises to improve your balance skills.
Speed and accuracy of leg movement is important in athletic activities. We will help you regain these skills in preparation for a return to sports activities.
Speed Recovery Time
We're trained and experienced in choosing the best treatments and exercises to help you heal, return to your normal lifestyle, and reach your goals faster than you are likely to do on your own.
We will work with you to set your work, sport, and home-life recovery goals. Your treatment program will help you reach those goals in the safest, fastest, and most effective way possible.
We will teach you
If Surgery Is Necessary
Surgery is not usually required to treat a mild PCL injury. However, it may be needed if:
Athletes may elect to undergo surgical replacement of the PCL to improve the stability of the knee during sports activities. If other parts of the knee are injured at the same time as the PCL, you may need different treatment for those injuries, including surgery.
If surgery is needed, you will follow a recovery program over several weeks guided by our senior physiotherapists who will help you