Blog #10: The Lesser Known Cruciate Ligament: The PCL by Chris Schattinger, MS(c), CSCS, CISSN
The term “cruciate” usually causes most to think about the most well-known cruciate ligament, the ACL. Lesser known to most is ligament that opposes the ACL, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The PCL, like the ACL, connects the femur to the tibia but has a role opposite that of the ACL by preventing excessive backwards movement of the tibia. The PCL is the strongest ligament in the knee and this may explain why we don’t hear about PCL injuries very often. Surprisingly the most common cause of PCL injury is not sports related but car related. During a car accident, the bent knee(s) of the driver can slam into the steering wheel or, in the case of the passenger, the dashboard. This force causes excessive backwards movement of the tibia and may be strong enough to overwhelm the PCL resulting in injury. Most PCL injuries are only partial tears and because the PCL is the strongest ligament in the knee surgery is typically not required. If a full tear or damage to other ligaments occurs, then surgery becomes an option. This is because, like the ACL, the PCL is a ligament that lacks a blood supply and does not heal easily. In cases where surgery is not required, PCL injury is usually treated through exercise prescription to help strengthen the muscles supporting the knee. Let us know what you thought about this blog by sending us a tweet or by leaving feedback in the comments section!