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What Is a Torn PCL?

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the largest and strongest of the four knee ligaments (the others are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL)). The PCL is a tough, flexible tissue that connects the thigh bone (femur) with the lower leg bone (tibia) in the knee joint, serving as the knee’s primary stabilizer.

A PCL tear can result from a fall or direct blow to the area just below the knee. Individuals who participate in sports that frequently involve collisions or falls, such as football, soccer, baseball and skiing, are particularly susceptible to this type of injury.

What does a torn PCL feel like?

Unlike an ACL tear, a PCL tear usually does not produce a “popping” sound. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain at the back of the knee
  • Difficulty walking
  • Swelling
  • Knee instability (a feeling that the knee is about to give out)

How is a torn PCL treated?

A mild to moderate PCL tear can usually be treated with R.I.C.E. therapy, which involves rest, ice applications, compression and elevation of the affected limb. However, if pain persists beyond a few days, it’s best to seek medical attention.

After evaluating the PCL injury, testing the strength and stability of the knee and reviewing X-ray or MRI images, a physician can determine the nature and extent of the damage and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. PCL tear treatment may include crutches, a knee brace and rehabilitative exercises to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. If a PCL tear is accompanied by other knee damage, surgical repair may be necessary.

With a team of experienced medical professionals who specialize in knee pain diagnosis and treatment, Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, provides comprehensive care for ACL, MCL and PCL tears, as well as many other common knee conditions, including osteoarthritis, runner’s knee, meniscus tears and fractures. To learn more or schedule a consultation at one of our offices in the Houston, TX, area, contact us today.