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Patella Fracture of the Knee

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Patella Fracture of the Knee

The patella is a small, round bone that sits on the top of your knee, commonly known as the kneecap. It protects the knee and acts as a connecting joint for certain leg muscles. Due to its location, the patella is rather vulnerable to injury and fracture.

What are the symptoms of a fractured patella?

  • Pain around the kneecap area
  • Bruising and swelling in the knee area
  • Inability to raise the leg while lying down
  • Inability to bear weight on the injured leg

These symptoms sometimes require surgery to correct, but not always. It depends upon the nature of the break itself.

Damage to the patella most commonly occurs as the result of a direct trauma. This could be due to a very hard fall directly onto the kneecap. Another common cause of a broken patella is when the knee is driven hard onto the dashboard of a vehicle during an accident.

What Happens During Fractured Patella Treatment?

Treatment of a broken patella depends upon the severity of the injury. Sometimes surgery will be needed to repair the damage. Other times, a splint or cast will be sufficient to the support the knee while it heals on its own.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

What Are The Types Of Patella Fractures?

Patella fractures come in all shapes and sizes, and in some circumstances require immediate surgical attention.

Stable

In this type of fracture, the bone remains more or less in one piece. There may be a crack in it, or it may be broken in two pieces, but the pieces are still in close proximity to each other. A stable fracture often heals on its own.

Displaced

A displaced fracture means that the broken pieces of the patellar bone have pulled away from each other. They no longer line up correctly. Knee joint damage may also be involved. This type of fracture requires surgery to repair.

Comminuted

This means that the patella has fractured into at least three pieces. These pieces may or may not still line up correctly. Depending upon the circumstances, surgery may or may not be required.

Open

This means that the bone itself has been broken in such a way that pieces are sticking up through the skin. This is a very serious fracture that also involves the threat of infection. It must be surgically treated right away.

In general, untreated patellar injuries of the knee can lead to the inability to walk or straighten the leg, and pain.

Patella Fracture Recovery

The recovery period may last from weeks to months, depending up on the injury and the anticipated activity levels of the patient. In general, more minor fractures will require only that you stop or limit only certain activities, such as climbing stairs, for a period of four to six weeks. You may have a cast, or only a removable splint. Your doctor will decide this.

You may need to keep your weight off the injured leg for a period of time. Your doctor will let you know if this is necessary.

To relieve pain, you can ice the area several times a day for the first few days. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe painkillers.

A broken patella can happen to anyone. Do what you can to avoid falls. Drive defensively, as many of these injuries happen during car accidents. Do what you can to prevent this type of injury from happening to you, and if it does give Orthopedic Associates a call.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr

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