Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (PCL)

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Body Part


The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of the 2 cruciate ligaments in the knee. It serves an important function in stabilising the knee and is one of the ligaments that connects the femur to the tibia (see diagram below). It stabilises the knee by preventing the lower leg from shifting too far back on the thigh bone.
The posterior cruciate ligament is a strong structure and requires a large force to cause a complete tear. The injuries range from mild sprains to complete tears.
PCL injuries are usually classified into 3 grades based on the amount of disruption

  • Grade I (Sprain)
  • Grade II (Partial tear)
  • Grade III (Complete tear)
  • Causes

    Hitting the front of the knee in a car accident with the knee bent.
    Falling directly onto the bent knee during sports.


    Some individuals who suffer sprains and partial tears may not seek medical attention as many are able to continue functioning normally especially if they are active and fit. Those who suffer more severe injury often have pain, swelling and instability or describe not being able to trust the knee.


    Grade I and II injuries normally leave the knee with sufficient stability to allow normal function. In these injuries the treatment is aimed at allowing the pain and inflammation to settle down followed by building the muscles around the knee particularly the quadriceps (thigh muscles). A brace may be worn initially to provide stability.

    If the feeling of instability and pain persist despite use of the brace and physiotherapy we recommend seeing an orthopaedic surgeon for further assessment. Your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgical reconstruction of the PCL.