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The posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, is a tissue band in the knee joint that connects the femur to the tibia. If the PCL is torn or worn away, it is called a torn posterior cruciate ligament. This condition may cause knee instability, as well as pain.
The most common cause of PCL tears is severe injury to the knee. If the knee receives a sudden and traumatic blow while bending, the force of the blow can cause the tibia to move backwards, resulting in a PCL tear. This type of injury is seen most often as a result of car accidents.
Knee pain is the most common symptom of this condition. Weakness, popping sensations in the knee, stiffness, and swelling or bruising of the knee may also take place. You may also experience difficulty or pain while walking, as well as a sensation of instability in the knee. Your doctor may diagnose this condition after observing these symptoms, and imaging studies may be used to help confirm the diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment.
Treatment options of a torn PCL generally begin with conservative treatment methods. These may include RICE, or rest, ice application, wrapping the knee in a compression bandage, and elevating the knee to help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy and medication to help reduce inflammation. If the condition is very severe or if treatments fail to have a lasting effect, your doctor may recommend surgery.