What is it?

A patella fracture is a break in the kneecap- the small, flat bone that covers and protects the knee joint like a shield. It’s usually caused by direct injury like a fall on the knee, a blow to the knee or a collision, like with the dashboard in a car accident. A patella fracture is a serious injury, which can impact the ability to bend or straighten the knee. Some patella fractures are simple, but this small bone is also capable of breaking into many pieces.

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Fracture of Patella.

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Open Patella Fracture
- Closed Patella Fracture

Signs & symptoms

* Pain.
* Swelling.
* Bruising.
* Palpable patellar defect.
* Inability to straighten your leg.
* Inability to raise your extended leg.
* Inability to walk.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about the symptoms and what happened at the time of the injury. Then they’ll examine the knee. They might have you try to extend the leg. If you can’t, that will likely necessitate surgical intervention. They may also be able to feel the edges of the fractured bone pieces through your skin.
They will check for open wounds and for signs of hemarthrosis- blood from the broken bone pieces collecting in your joint, which can cause excessive swelling. They will take X-rays or even a CT scan to define the fracture.

Treatment

* Surgery- If the bone pieces are displaced, they will need to be put back together in surgery. Bone pieces that are too far apart from each other have a hard time coming back together on their own because the strong muscles attached to your knee tend to pull the bone pieces apart. Orthopaedic surgeons can use screws, pins, plates or wires to reconnect your bone pieces. If your pieces of bone are too small, your surgeon may remove them. They may also need to reattach your tendon to your bone.
* Rest- You’ll be sent home with a cast, splint or brace to keep your knee in position and limit movement while it is healing. Your healthcare provider will let you know how much weight you can bear and how much you can bend your knee. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter pain medication with periodic ice and elevation to keep the swelling down.
* Rehabilitation- Physical therapy will be very important to restore the mobility of your knee. This injury can cause stiffness and muscle weakness, and you may need to retrain your knee to move as it did prior to your injury. Physical therapy may be ordered, which will focus on strengthening, stretching and range-of-motion exercises.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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