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Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

PCL Injuries

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What Are PCL Injuries?

PCL injuries are damage to the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in the knee. The PCL is one of four main ligaments that keep the knee stable. To understand PCL injuries, it helps to know a little about how the knee works.

The knee is a large joint where the shinbone (tibia) meets the thighbone (femur). Two ligaments run along either side of the knee.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside and keeps the knee from bending in. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside and keeps the knee from bending out.

Two other ligaments — the PCL and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — cross each other in the middle of the knee. They work together to keep the shinbone attached to the thighbone.

The PCL connects the back part of the shinbone to the front part of the thighbone so that the shinbone does not slide behind the thighbone.

When the knee is forced into an unusual position, the PCL and other ligaments can tear, partially or all the way. In children, PCL injuries most often happen during high-speed sports, such as basketball and soccer.

A blow to the front of the knee — for example, from hitting the dashboard during an automobile accident or falling hard on a bent knee during a football game — can also injure the PCL.

PCL Injuries in Children

Teenage athletes who participate in high-speed sports are more likely to injure their PCL than other young people. In teenagers especially, accidents also cause PCL injuries.

Teenagers are more likely to injure their PCL than children who are younger than age 12. Younger children more often break the bone where the PCL attaches.

PCL Injuries at Seattle Children’s

We are experts at treating growing athletes. We have a team of doctors, physician assistants and physical therapists that treats PCL injuries and other problems with growing bones and joints.

Our rehabilitation program includes regular physical therapy designed so that your child will:

  • Recover range of motion
  • Rebuild strength and stability
  • Restore balance
  • Regain confidence in using the knee

We have a sports lab on site to help your child during rehabilitation.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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Download Summer 2014 (PDF)