The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) runs from the front of the femur (thighbone) to the back of the tibia (shinbone). It prevents the tibia from moving too far backward relative to the femur. The PCL can be stretched, or partially or completely torn.
PCL injuries are uncommon in rugby and are usually the result of motor vehicle accidents. Before the previous Rugby World Cup, Bobby Skinstad had an injury to the PCL as a result of a motor vehicle accident. An example of a rugby player who sustained this injury during the current World Cup, is the All Blacks player Tana Umaga.
PCL injuries occur as a result of a direct blow to the front of the knee while it is bent, dislocation of the kneecap or injury to other knee structures.
PCL injuries can often be missed because other ligaments compensate for the injured PCL. There is a degree of instability but less pain and swelling than in injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament or collateral ligaments.
Up to 88% of players with this injury can recover completely without any surgical intervention but it can be associated with degeneration later on. What you can do:
Apply RICE: rest - slows down bleeding and reduces the risk of further damage; Ice - eases pain, reduces swelling, reduces bleeding initially; compression - reduces bleeding and swelling; elevation - reduces bleeding and swelling by allowing fluids to flow away from the site of injury.
See a medical professional if the pain is severe, you sprain your knee more than once, you have knee pain, swelling or stiffness which lasts more than a few days or if your knee feels weak or wobbly.
Health24 October 2003
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