What is a Patella Fracture?

The patella, commonly referred to as the “kneecap,” protects your knee joint. When the patella breaks or shatters, this painful injury is known as a patella fracture. This condition can occur at the top, center or bottom of the bone. Occasionally, patella fractures occur in multiple regions of the kneecap at once. Although these injuries affect many individuals and are relatively common, patella fractures are considered severe and can cause serious, long-term complications if not promptly and properly addressed.

Causes

The kneecap can be broken in a number of ways (much like any other bone in the body), including:

  • Falling directly onto the knee
  • A direct blow, impact or sudden trauma to the knee
  • Indirect pressure from other bones and muscles

Symptoms

Due to the intensity and immediate pain associated with a patella fracture, you will almost certainly notice the moment it occurs. Other common signs of this injury include:

  • Very limited mobility, including an inability to walk
  • Difficulty fully straightening the knee
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Pain, usually intense

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

If you suspect you have suffered a patella fracture, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Without proper treatment, a patella fracture will almost certainly lead to chronic knee dysfunction, mobility issues, infection, disability, stiffness and arthritis.

At OrthoCARE Institute, a division of the vertically-integrated, physician-owned Lumin Health healthcare system, we treat a variety of orthopedic issues, including patella fractures. During your visit, one of our experienced orthopedic doctors will carefully examine your knee to discern the extent of your injury and whether any bones have become displaced. Hemarthrosis, a deep swelling within the joint, is also a concern when treating patella fractures. X-rays or other diagnostic tests may be necessary to ascertain the gravity of your injury. After obtaining a complete diagnosis, your physician will design a treatment plan tailored to your needs and health history.

If the incident that caused your patella fracture did not also displace the broken pieces of bone, you may not need surgery. We encourage conservative treatments, such as casts, splints and physical therapy, whenever feasible to encourage optimal healing. Rest and limited activity is also an important part of the recovery process.

Unfortunately, some patella fractures necessitate surgery, especially if much displacement has occurred. Bones that have moved from their original position rarely come back together on their own, especially in the unique structure of the knee. Orthopedic surgeons repair patella fractures by fastening together drifting fragments of bone and encouraging them to once again fuse.

To learn more about patella fractures or OrthoCARE Institute, contact us by calling 972-573-7802 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page. We are committed to providing innovative, patient-centric care that exceeds your expectations. We look forward to helping you overcome your knee injury and returning to the quality of life that you deserve!

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