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Kneecap Fractures (Patella Fractures)

Kneecap Fractures

Have you ever injured your knee and felt a sharp pain in your kneecap?
If so, you might have suffered a patella fracture, also known as a broken kneecap.
This is a serious injury that can affect your ability to bend or straighten your knee, and may require surgery to repair.

A patella fracture is usually caused by a direct impact to your knee, such as a fall, a blow, or a collision.
Depending on the force and angle of the impact, your kneecap may crack, break into two pieces, or shatter into many fragments.
Some patella fractures are simple and can heal with rest and immobilization, but others are complex and need surgical fixation to restore the normal function of your knee.

If you have a patella fracture, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Severe pain in the front of your knee
  • Swelling and bruising around your kneecap
  • Difficulty moving or straightening your knee
  • A feeling of instability or weakness in your knee
  • A visible deformity or gap in your kneecap

If you suspect you have a patella fracture, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Your doctor will examine your knee and order X-rays or other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type and severity of your fracture.
Your treatment plan will depend on several factors, such as the extent of the damage, your age, your activity level, and your overall health.

Kneecap Fractures
Kneecap Fractures

Kneecap Fractures

The knee is one of the most important and complex joints in the human body.
It allows us to walk, run, jump, and bend our legs.
The knee is made up of four bones:
the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (smaller bone next to the tibia), and the patella (kneecap).
The patella is a small, flat bone that covers and protects the front of the knee joint.
It also helps to increase the leverage and efficiency of the muscles that extend the knee.
The patella can be fractured or broken by various causes, such as a fall, a blow, or a collision.
A patella fracture is a serious injury that can affect the function and stability of the knee.
Depending on the type and severity of the fracture, the treatment and recovery may vary.

Types of Patella Fractures

There are different types of patella fractures, depending on how the bone breaks and how the pieces are aligned. Some of the common types are:

Stable Patella Fracture

This is a type of fracture where the bone cracks but the pieces remain in their normal position.
This type of fracture usually heals well with rest and immobilization of the knee.
The patient may need to wear a brace or a cast for several weeks to prevent the knee from bending and allow the bone to heal.

Displaced Patella Fracture


This is a type of fracture where the bone breaks and the pieces move out of their normal position.
This type of fracture often requires surgery to realign and fix the bone fragments with wires, screws, or plates.
The surgery may also involve repairing the soft tissues around the patella, such as the tendons and ligaments, that may be damaged or torn by the fracture.

Kneecap Fractures2

Transverse Patella Fracture

This is a type of fracture where the bone breaks into two pieces horizontally.
This type of fracture is usually caused by a sudden contraction of the quadriceps muscle, the large muscle in the front of the thigh, against a bent knee.
This type of fracture often needs surgery to rejoin the two pieces of the bone and restore the function of the knee.

Comminuted Patella Fracture

This is a type of fracture where the bone breaks into three or more pieces.
This type of fracture is usually caused by a high-energy impact, such as a car accident or a fall from a height.
This type of fracture is more complicated to treat, as the bone fragments may be too small or too scattered to be fixed.
The surgery may involve removing some of the bone pieces and reconstructing the patella with a graft or a prosthesis.

Kneecap Fractures

Symptoms of Kneecap Fractures

The symptoms of a patella fracture may include:

  • Severe pain in the front of the knee
  • Swelling and bruising around the knee
  • Difficulty or inability to straighten or bend the knee
  • A feeling of instability or weakness in the knee
  • A visible deformity or gap in the kneecap
  • Inability to perform a straight leg raise, which is a test where the patient tries to lift the leg while lying down

Diagnosis of Kneecap Fractures

The diagnosis of a patella fracture is based on the history of the injury, the physical examination of the knee, and the imaging tests.
The doctor will ask the patient about how the injury occurred, the symptoms, and the medical history.
The doctor will then examine the knee and check for signs of fracture, such as tenderness, swelling, deformity, and movement.
The doctor will also test the function and strength of the knee and the quadriceps muscle.

Kneecap Fractures

Imaging Tests

The imaging tests that are used to diagnose a Kneecap Fractures are:

X-rays

These are the most common and basic tests that show the bone structure and the fracture pattern.
X-rays can help to determine the type and severity of the fracture and the alignment of the bone fragments.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

This is a more advanced test that uses multiple X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of the bone and the soft tissues.
A CT scan can provide more detailed information about the fracture and the surrounding structures, such as the cartilage, the tendons, and the ligaments.
A CT scan can also help to plan the surgery and the fixation method.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

This is another advanced test that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create a high-resolution image of the bone and the soft tissues.
An MRI scan can show the extent of the damage to the cartilage, the tendons, and the ligaments, which may affect the outcome and the recovery of the fracture.
An MRI scan can also help to rule out other injuries or conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as a meniscus tear or a patellar dislocation.

Kneecap Fractures

Treatment of Patella Fractures

The treatment of a patella fracture depends on the type and severity of the fracture, the age and activity level of the patient, and the overall health of the patient.
The main goals of the treatment are to relieve the pain, restore the function and stability of the knee, and prevent complications, such as infection, arthritis, or stiffness.

The treatment options for a patella fracture are:

Nonsurgical Treatment

This is the preferred option for stable or nondisplaced fractures, where the bone pieces are in their normal position and the knee can still function.
The non-surgical treatment involves immobilizing the knee with a brace or a cast for several weeks to allow the bone to heal.
The patient may also need to use crutches or a walker to avoid putting weight on the injured leg.
The patient may also need to take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and swelling.
The patient may also need to do some physical therapy exercises to regain the motion and strength of the knee after the immobilization period.

Surgical Treatment

This is the recommended option for displaced or complex fractures, where the bone pieces are out of their normal position and the knee cannot function.
The surgical treatment involves realigning and fixing the bone fragments with wires, screws, or plates.
The surgery may also involve repairing the soft tissues around the patella, such as the tendons and ligaments, that may be damaged or torn by the fracture.
The surgery may be done as an open procedure, where the surgeon makes a large incision over the knee, or as a minimally invasive procedure, where the surgeon makes small incisions and uses special instruments and a camera.
The surgical treatment may also involve removing some of the bone pieces and reconstructing the patella with a graft or a prosthesis, especially for comminuted fractures.
The patient may need to stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.
The patient may also need to wear a brace or a cast for several weeks to protect the knee and allow the bone to heal.
The patient may also need to use crutches or a walker to avoid putting weight on the injured leg.
The patient may also need to take painkillers and antibiotics to prevent infection. The patient may also need to do some physical therapy exercises to regain the motion and strength of the knee after the surgery.

Kneecap Fractures

Recovery and Prognosis of Patella Fractures

The recovery and prognosis of a patella fracture depend on the type and severity of the fracture, the treatment method, and the patient’s compliance with the rehabilitation program.
The recovery time may vary from six weeks to six months or longer.
The patient may need to follow some instructions and precautions during the recovery period, such as:

  • Avoiding activities that may cause stress or injury to the knee, such as running, jumping, or squatting
  • Keeping the knee elevated and applying ice packs to reduce the swelling and the pain
  • Doing the physical therapy exercises regularly and gradually increasing the intensity and duration
  • Following the doctor’s advice on when and how to resume normal activities and sports

The prognosis of a patella fracture is generally good, especially for stable or simple fractures that are treated nonsurgically or surgically with good fixation and alignment.
Most patients can regain the full function and stability of the knee and return to their previous level of activity and sport.
However, some patients may experience some complications or long-term effects, such as:

Infection

This is a rare but serious complication that can occur after surgery or an open fracture.
The infection can affect the bone, the soft tissues, or the hardware used to fix the fracture.
The infection can cause pain, fever, redness, swelling, and drainage from the wound.
The infection may require additional surgery to remove the infected tissue or hardware and to administer antibiotics.

Malunion

This is a complication where the bone heals in a wrong or poor position.
The malunion can affect the function and stability of the knee and cause pain, stiffness, or arthritis.
The malunion may require additional surgery to correct the position of the bone and to restore the normal anatomy of the knee.

Nonunion

This is a complication where the bone fails to heal or heals very slowly.
The nonunion can affect the function and stability of the knee and cause pain, instability, or arthritis.
The nonunion may be caused by factors such as poor blood supply, infection, smoking, diabetes, or inadequate fixation.
The nonunion may require additional surgery to stimulate the bone healing or to replace the bone with a graft or a prosthesis.

Arthritis

This is a long-term effect where the cartilage of the knee wears out and causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
The arthritis may be caused by factors such as chondral damage, malunion, nonunion, or excessive stress on the joint.
Arthritis may be treated with medications, injections, physical therapy, or surgery.

Broken Kneecap in Richmond Hill

At PhysioHealth, we have a team of experienced and qualified medical professionals who can help you recover from your patella fracture.
Whether you need surgery or not, we can provide you with the best physiotherapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic care to relieve your pain, restore your mobility, and prevent complications.

Don’t let a patella fracture keep you from enjoying your life.
Contact us today at 905-392-7000 or schedule an online appointment. We are located in Richmond Hill.
Let us help you get back to healthy!

Kneecap Fractures

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Our mission is to provide the highest quality preventive and rehabilitation services to help you recover from musculoskeletal and sports-related injuries. The Clinic’s core values include integrity, respect, and professional growth and development dedication. Every patient is given personal attention and a custom solution tailored to their individual needs and goals.
In our Clinic, we treat people to get back to workouts and activities they love.
Physio2Health Clinic offers a wide variety of holistic therapies in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere to maximize your health and well-being. Our friendly, professional, and fully qualified therapist teams are here to help you either seek relief from injury or illness or wish to maintain your health. 

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