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Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury and Treatment

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury and Treatment

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is a thick band of tissue deep inside the knee that connects the thighbone to the lower leg bone. The PCL prevents the shinbone from sliding too far backward under the thighbone. Excessive force that pushes the shinbone backward under the thighbone can cause a PCL injury. Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury are not common knee ligament injuries.

The PCL can be stretched, partially torn, or completely torn.

Injuries which tear the PCL can often damage other ligaments or cartilage in the knee. PCL injuries can also break a piece of bone within the knee. PCL injuries can occur quickly due to excessive force – such as sports or a traumatic accident or they may develop over time as the ligament is continuously stressed.

PCL injuries are not common. Only 3% to 20% of knee ligament injuries are PCL injuries. They can occur by hitting the knee against the dashboard during a car accident, falling onto a bent knee, knee hyper extension (usually during sports) are common causes of injury.

 Physiotherapists treat PCL injuries to help reduce pain, swelling, stiffness, and any weakness associated with the injury.


  • Pain in the knee – can be sharp or dull
  • Pain deep inside knee or behind knee
  • Pain when walking longer distances
  • Swelling throughout the knee
  • Stiffness in the knee
  • A wobbly feeling in the knee
  • Difficulty walking on the injured leg
  • Difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Difficulty when starting to run

How Can a Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapists can design a specific treatment program that will speed your recovery, including exercises you can do at the gym or home. Physiotherapy will help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities. The time it takes to heal from your injury will vary person to person. Depending on the extent of injury it can take anywhere between 2-12 weeks.

Managing Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

  • Rest
  • Apply ice packs to the area for 10-15 minutes as often as possible for the next 24-48 hours
  • Reduce Pain and Swelling: variety of treatments can be used to control and reduce your pain and swelling, including ice, electrical stimulation, taping, exercises, and hands on therapy such as massage or manual therapy.
  • Improve Range of Motion: Depending on your injury, you may be asked to gently move your leg and knee joint
  • Improve Flexibility: Stretches may be prescribed if your muscles are tight. Often after an injury, certain muscles will become tight or spasm as a protective mechanism.
  • Improve Strength: Exercises may be prescribed to restore your strength. These may include the use of cuff weights, stretch bands, weight-lifting equipment, and cardio-exercise equipment, such as treadmills or stationary bicycles.

Do you need surgery?

Only if:

  • The PCL is completely torn
  • A piece of bone has broken loose
  • There are other ligament injuries
  • You constantly feel like your knee is going to buckle

If you have had a knee injury, come and see Physiotherapy Professionals Parramatta. We can help assess and treat your injury with the correct guidance.