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TEXT: (908) 224-4639
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Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of the major ligaments located within the knee joint. Ligaments are tough, fibrous bands of connective tissue that connect bones to each other and provide stability to the joint. This ligament stabilizes the knee and prevents excessive backward movement of the tibia in relation to the femur.

The PCL is situated within the knee joint along with three other main ligaments: the anterior cruciate, the medial collateral, and the lateral collateral ligaments. These ligaments work simultaneously to maintain the stability and proper alignment of the knee joint during various movements.

The PCL originates from the posterior aspect of the tibia and crosses diagonally to attach to the anterior aspect of the femur. It functions primarily to resist forces that push the tibia backward, helping to prevent hyperextension of the knee and maintain the stability of the joint. Additionally, the PCL plays a role in transmitting forces between the femur and the tibia during weight-bearing activities.

Injury to the PCL can occur due to traumatic events, such as car accidents or sports-related collisions, as well as hyperextension injuries.

PCL injuries are typically graded based on their severity:

Grade 1: Mild sprain with some stretching of the ligament fibers.

Grade 2: Partial tear of the PCL.

Grade 3: Complete tear of the PCL.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injuries can vary, and the signs and symptoms can provide insight into the extent of the injury. Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with Posterior Cruciate Ligament injuries:

  • Pain: Pain at the back of the knee or deep within the joint is a typical symptom of a PCL injury. The intensity of the pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the injury.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the knee joint is common after a PCL injury. The swelling may be noticeable within hours of the injury and can contribute to discomfort and limited mobility.
  • Instability: Individuals with a PCL injury may experience a feeling of instability or “giving way” in the knee, particularly when attempting to bear weight or engage in activities that involve bending and extending the knee.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness and reduced range of motion in the knee joint can occur due to the injury and subsequent swelling.
  • Difficulty Walking: Walking may be challenging, especially if the PCL injury affects the stability of the knee joint.
  • Weakness: Weakness in the muscles surrounding the knee may be noticeable, particularly in activities that require pushing off or supporting body weight.
  • Pain While Descending Stairs: Descending stairs or slopes might exacerbate the pain and discomfort associated with a PCL injury.
  • Feeling of Fullness: Some individuals report a sensation of fullness or pressure within the knee joint due to swelling and inflammation.
  • Limited Flexion: Bending the knee (flexion) might be difficult and painful due to the compromised stability of the PCL.


If you suspect a Posterior Cruciate Ligament injury or experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons online here or by calling our main office at: (908) 486-1111.