Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament are not as common as other knee ligament injuries. In fact, they are often subtle and more difficult to evaluate than other ligament injuries in the knee.
Many times a posterior cruciate ligament injury occurs along with injuries to other structures in the knee such as cartilage, other ligaments, and bone.
Injury to the PCL often occurs when a force directed posteriorly strikes the flexed knee such as in a car crash when the knee strikes the dashboard or when an athlete is tackled or slams a bent knee into the ground. PCL injuries can also occur with hyperextension.
The typical symptoms of a posterior cruciate ligament injury are:
- Pain with swelling that occurs steadily and quickly after the injury
- Swelling that makes the knee stiff and may cause a limp
- Difficulty walking
- The knee feels unstable, like it may “give out”
An isolated PCL injury typically does not require surgery to heal. If the PCL is chronically dysfunctional or partially torn without improvement, a regenerative type injection such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or prolotherapy may be of benefit.