Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (PCL)



PCL injury is caused by excess force on the knee. This may be from:

  • A direct blow to the knee
  • Twisting the knee
  • Falling on a bent knee

Risk Factors

Some sports may raise the risk of this injury, such as football and soccer. Being in a motor vehicle accident may also raise the risk.



An injury to the PCL may cause:

  • Pain and swelling in the knee
  • Soreness in the area behind the knee
  • Weakness or instability in the knee
  • Problems walking
  • Pain when moving the knee


The doctor will ask about symptoms, health history, and how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee.

The doctor may suspect a PCL injury based on symptoms. Pictures may be taken to confirm it. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • Ultrasound



The PCL does not heal on its own. The goal is to ease pain and improve movement. This may be done with:

  • Ice and rest to ease pain and swelling
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee
  • A brace to keep the knee from moving
  • Crutches to take weight off of the leg

Some people may need surgery. It will remake the PCL with tissue from other areas of the body or from donor tissue.


The risk of a PCL injury may be lowered by stretching and strengthening the muscles around the knee and in the front of the thigh.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.