Cruciate ligament injury - aftercare; PCL injury - aftercare
The PCL is one of several ligaments that help keep your knee stable. The PCL helps keep your leg bones in place and allows your knee to move back and forth. It is the strongest ligament in the knee. PCL tears often occur as a result of a severe knee injury.
Injuring the PCL takes a lot of force. It can occur if you:
PCL injuries commonly occur with other knee damage, including injuries to the nerves and blood vessels. Skiers and people who play basketball, football, or soccer are more likely to have this type of injury.
With a PCL injury, you may have:
After examining your knee, your doctor may send you to have an MRI. An MRI is a device that can take pictures of the tissues inside your knee. The pictures will show whether these tissues have been stretched or torn. You also may have an x-ray to see if there is any damage to the bones in your knee.
If you have a PCL injury, you may need:
If you have a severe injury, such as a knee dislocation, you will need knee surgery to repair the joint. For milder injuries, you may not need surgery. Some people can live and function normally with a torn PCL. However, if you are younger, having a torn PCL may lead to arthritis symptoms as you age. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
Follow R.I.C.E. to help reduce pain and swelling:
You can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) helps with pain, but not swelling. You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
If you have surgery to repair your PCL:
If you do NOT have surgery to repair your PCL:
Call your health care provider if:
If you have surgery, call the doctor if you have:
Adib F, Curtis C, Bienkowski P Micheli LJ. Posterior cruciate ligament sprain. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 76.
Petrigliano FA, Montgomery SR, Johnson JS, McAllister DR. Posterior cruciate ligament injuries. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 99.
Last reviewed on: 5/9/2015
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, assistant professor, chief, sports medicine and shoulder service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.