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The Posterior Cruciate Ligament: The Forgotten Knee Ligament

The Posterior Cruciate Ligament: The Forgotten Knee Ligament
The Posterior Cruciate Ligament The Forgotten Knee Ligament

The Posterior Cruciate Ligament: The ACL’s Bastards Brother

Posterior cruciate ligament injuries are not anywhere near as common as ACL injuries, with records suggestive they occur at a ratio of 10:1 compared to the headline grabbing ACL. The mechanism of a PCL injury is quite a different force when compared to the mechanism required to damage an ACL.

Typically The Mechanism For A PCL Injury Is Either:

  • A direct blow to the top of the shin bone (tiba), an incident that can occur in a motor vehicle accident when striking the dash board or when striking the ground heavy in a tackle.
  • Forced extreme knee bending under load, which could occur during incidents including landing poorly from a ski jump or falling awkwardly on a bent knee in a tackle.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries Are Often Accompanied By Other Injuries

PCL injuries are often associated with other ligamentous injuries in the knee and as a result the ligamentous stability of the knee should always be fully assessed. The treatment of an isolated posterior cruciate ligament injury regardless of the injuries severity is typically non surgical. The majority of athletes with a PCL injury will return to their pre-injury levels of play.

Non-Surgical Management Of Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The non surgical management of PCL injuries will traditionally involve physiotherapy treatment as well as gym and sport specific rehabilitation program. Athletes can generally return to normal activities in a graduated fashion from the six to twelve weeks period post injury with out without the use of a supportive knee brace to help ease the transition back into play and add stability where absent as result of the knee being deficient in a PCL.

Surgical Management Of PCL Injuries

Individuals with a posterior cruciate ligament injury that is accompanied with other significant associated ligament injuries will require surgery. And occasionally athletes with complete tears to their PCL will require surgical reconstruction due to ongoing complaints of instability and/or pain. ACL reconstruction is typically a very successful surgery however the results of PCL reconstructions are not quite as predictable as their more famous brother.

The Long Term Consequences Of A PCL Injury

Due to potential associated joint damage sustained by the knee during the injury and the altered mechanics of a knee being absent of a PCL in the long term a posterior cruciate ligament injury can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on The Posterior Cruciate Ligament The Forgotten Knee Ligament should consult his or her general practitioner or physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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