The posterior cruciate ligament is one of the muscles connecting the femur to the tibia, located at the back of the knee. The ligament holds the tibia in place and prevents it from moving too far back. Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament typically involve a powerful, high-impact collision. One of the most frequent causes of injury is falling on a bent knee or slamming it into a hard surface.
Injuries of the ligament aren’t as common as other knee ligament injuries. The posterior cruciate ligament is stronger than the anterior cruciate ligament and inflicted injuries are often harder to evaluate. In most cases, an injury occurs along with damage to other structures in the knee. Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament are graded on a severity scale and are considered sprains by medical professionals.
A Grade 1 sprain features only mild damage, while a Grade 2 Sprain involves stretching, or partial tear of the ligament. Grade 3 Sprains are complete tears, the ligament is split into two pieces, and the knee joint is unstable. Posterior cruciate ligament injuries are usually partial tears and heal on their own.
Patients typically suffer from pain, swelling and difficulty walking. Occasionally, the knee may feel as if it is “giving out” as the patient walks.
Doctors only recommends surgery for posterior cruciate ligament injuries if the patient has combined injuries. If the knee dislocates and is torn in multiple sections, including the posterior cruciate ligament, surgery is typically necessary. The doctor will replace the torn ligament with a tissue graft, from another part of your body, or a cadaver. It may take several months for the graft to heal properly. Cases in which the posterior cruciate ligament is the only muscle injured, patients may heal well without surgical intervention. Physical therapy, RICE and wearing a brace will help induce the healing process and recovery.