The knee is a complicated joint and hence there are many ways in which it can get injured. An injury to the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) is one of them. The PCL connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). A sprain or a tear in this ligament leads to instability in the knee joint.

The image shows a person with PCL tear injury

The main cause of a PCL injury is severe trauma to the knee in a flexed (bent) position. Source.

Hyperextension of the knee or a car accident can also cause an injury. Athletic movements like jumping, landing incorrectly often associated with sports like football, baseball, skiing can result in this injury.


Common symptoms:

Unlike an ACL injury when you hear a “pop” sound at the time of an injury, the symptoms of a PCL injury can develop over time.

These symptoms include:

  • Wobbly sensation
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness specifically at the back of the knee
  • Knee pain
  • Trouble while walking or bearing weight

Rehab exercises:

The first thing to do after is to rest it followed by icing, compression and elevation. This is commonly known as the RICE protocol and is used to alleviate the pain and swelling along with preventing the chance of further injury. Once the swelling and the pain subside, these rehab exercises will help strengthen the muscle and prevent the injury to recur.

  • Quad sets: Sit on the floor with the injured leg extended straight out and the uninjured leg bent. Bring the back of the knee to touch the floor by tightening the muscles of the thigh. Hold for about 10 seconds and repeat in 2 sets of 15.
  • Seated quad sets: Sit on a chair with the knee of the injured leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Tighten the thigh muscle without moving or extending the leg. Hold the position for 5 seconds and repeat in 2 sets of 15.
  • Wall Squats: With your feet shoulder width apart and keeping your back against the wall, bend your knee and slowly lower your hips into a squat. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and try and increase time in every set. Don’t bend too deep and do 2 sets of 15. 
  • Straight leg raises: Lie down on your back and straighten out the injured leg. Raise the leg to the ceiling without bending the knee. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds and repeat 10 times in 2 sets. 
  • Step-ups: Place the injured leg on the stepper board (3 to 5 inches high) and the other leg on the floor. Shift the weight of the body slowly to the injured leg by stepping up and straightening that leg out. Slowly shift the weight back to the uninjured leg by bending the injured leg and placing the other leg back on the floor. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Wobble board: Stand on the wobble board with both feet at the edges. Balance the board by not letting either of the sides touch the floor. Keep at it for 1 to 2 minutes. 

These are a few exercises that will help you recover non-surgically. If extreme pain is experienced during any of these exercises, stop. In case of a severe injury, a surgery might be the option. Consult with your doctor for a complete checkup and a structured rehabilitation plan.

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