MCL & PCL Injuries

What are they, and how are they treated?

You love playing sports! You have managed to have minimal injuries. That is, until recently.

You went to catch a football and landed hard…on your knee. You know something is wrong. You may have a torn ligament, or more particularly, your MCL or PCL.

Our specialists in the Greater Columbus area have helped many to make a full recovery from knee ligament injuries. Contact OrthoNeuro to get your knee accessed today.

But, you may be wondering, “What are an MCL and a PCL?” Not to worry. We are here to help!

What Are an MCL and a PCL?

The medial collateral ligament is commonly referred to as the MCL. The posterior cruciate ligament is commonly referred to as the PCL. These are two of the four ligaments that are essential in stabilizing our knees.

The MCL is a ligament located inside your knee but outside the knee jointIt plays a crucial role in preventing your knee from bending inward and gives your knee the ability to rotate.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the strongest ligament in the knee and helps to keep the structure of your knee by preventing your shin bone from sliding behind the thigh bone.

What Are MCL and PCL Injuries?

An MCL injury is a tear or sprain to the medial collateral ligament. If the ligaments on the inside of the knee are stretched too far, this can cause a medial collateral ligament tear.

A PCL injury is a tear or sprain to the posterior cruciate ligament. A posterior cruciate ligament tear can occur if the shin bone (tibia) is pushed too far backward at the knee.

What Are the Causes of MCL & PCL Injuries?

There are several causes of MCL and PCL injuries. Most commonly, the MCL can be injured from a direct blow or hit to the outside of the knee.

Repeated stress or activities that involve bending, sudden changes in direction, or landing awkwardly on a bent knee can also cause medial collateral ligament tears.

A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury is a partial or complete tearing or stretching of any part of the ligament. This knee injury is often caused by a direct blow to the knee.

For example, falling directly on your knee or hitting your knee on the dashboard while in a car accident.

Overextending your knee can also cause posterior cruciate ligament injuries.

PCL injuries can often occur with other tears, such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, or severe injuries, including dislocating your knee.

Symptoms of a PCL or MCL Injury

Although PCL and MCL are crucial for proper knee function, each can be associated with different symptoms to let you know something is wrong.

Symptoms of a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury include:

  • Pain that can be felt within the knee
  • Swelling
  • Knee stiffness
  • Instability
  • Difficulty walking

Symptoms of medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury include:

  • Pain/tenderness along the inside of the knee
  • Loud “popping” sound
  • Swelling
  • Locking/catching in the knee joint
  • Feeling like your knee is “giving out”

How Are MCL & PCL Injuries Diagnosed?

To diagnose your cruciate ligament injury properly, your orthopedic specialist will do a physical exam.

You will be asked about how the injury occurred, your symptoms, and what movements cause you the most knee pain.

X-rays may be taken to see the severity of your injury. Your physical and athletic goals will also be discussed to develop your specific, individualized treatment plan. 

What Is the Treatment for an MCL & PCL Injury?

Several treatment options are available for MCL and PCL injuries and often do not require surgery. Conservative treatments are effective in helping the ligaments to heal.

These conservative treatment options include:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bracing and immobilization to keep the knee stable

Surgery and Repair for MCL & PCL Injuries

There are some rare instances where a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury will require surgical intervention.

Minimally invasive surgery may be necessary if the injury cannot repair itself or when other ligaments in the knee have also been torn.

This can be done arthroscopically through small incisions in your knee.

Surgery may also be an option for a PCL if it is coupled with other injuries. This surgery will reconstruct the ligament.

Your specialist will use a graft from another tendon in the body to do the reconstruction. In addition, small sutures, screws, or anchors can be used to reattach and correctly position the tendon.

MCL & PCL Post-Operative Care

Following your post-operative care instructions is essential to your injured knee making a complete recovery.

It is highly recommended that you use crutches, and a brace for about one month after surgery, followed by physical therapy.

Recovery After an MCL & PCL Injury

The recovery time will vary for each person depending on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as how well you follow the instructions for healing.

For mild MCL injuries, you can return to normal activity within a couple of weeks. More severe injuries will require two or more months to recover.

A mild PCL injury can take a few months to heal, whereas a more severe torn PCL can take approximately 6-9 months after knee surgery. However, many athletes take one year to fully recover before returning to their chosen sport.

Our knees have taken care of us for many years; now it is time to take care of them.

If you have been experiencing symptoms of a PCL or MCL injury, call OrthoNeuro today or schedule an appointment online with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists.

We are eager to help you with your recovery and rehabilitation.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Knee Specialist Today!

If you have been experiencing symptoms of an MCL or PCL injury, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Knee Specialists


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