Ligaments are bands of a very strong tissue that hold bones together. The bones connected around the knee are held together by cruciate ligaments connecting the thighbone and the shinbone. There are ligaments in the front and backside of the knee called the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, and they cross in the center of the knee. In many sports, ligament injuries are quite frequent and in the case a ligament is torn, you may suffer pain, swelling and a sense instability. The most frequent injury is that of the anterior cruciate ligament, while the posterior cruciate ligament injuries happen less often.
In the case of a posterior cruciate ligament injury you may experience symptoms such as: pain in the knee, rapid swelling and tenderness, pain while kneeling or squatting, limping and difficulties in walking, a sense of instability or looseness in the injured knee, pain while running, slowing down or walking up and down the stairs. When the anterior cruciate ligament is torn, you can feel a "pop", which is not the case with the posterior cruciate ligament, where you sometimes do not even feel anything is wrong after the injury for some time. After a while, the pain increases and depending on the affected parts of the knee, the signs and symptoms can get more severe.
The posterior cruciate ligament is injured if your shinbone is hit just below the knee or if you happen to fall on a bent knee, and that most often happens in motor vehicle accidents when your bent knee slams into the dashboard, or in contact sports such as football or soccer, if the bent knee hits the ground and moves backwards, or when the player is tackled. You can also injure it if you bend or extend the knee beyond its normal position or get hit on the side of a twisted knee.
You can treat the swelling and pain with anti-inflammation medication. Physical therapy is also a good way of treating mild to moderate injuries and they are prescribed by a physical therapist who can show you exercises to make the knee stronger and improve its function. Sometimes, this process requires a knee brace or use of crutches. Surgical procedures include joint aspiration, where excess fluid is removed from the knee with a syringe. If the knee ligament injury is severe, surgery can be used to reconstruct the knee.
The most important thing to do when you have an injured knee ligament is to apply ice packs on it until the pain goes away, to rest your leg and elevate it by placing a pillow under the knee and taking pain medication if you are really uncomfortable.