Factors that may increase your risk of a patella fracture include:
- Increased age
- Decreased muscle mass
- Decreased bone mass— osteoporosis
- Participation in contact sports such as football and soccer
- Obesity , which places strain on muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments
- Violence, such as car or car-pedestrian accidents
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look closely at the knee to see if there are signs of fracture . A straight leg test may be done.
Images can evaluate your knee and surrounding structures. These may include:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
Treatment options include the following:
After the tests, the doctor will determined whether surgery is needed. If the patella is not badly injured, the doctor will place the knee in a cast . This cast may need to be worn for 6 weeks. After that, a knee brace and physical therapy will be needed. A cane or crutches may be needed.
Medication will be advised to reduce swelling and pain.
If the patella is in pieces, then surgery will be needed. There are 2 kinds of surgery that are commonly used to treat this injury:
- Open reduction-internal fixation surgery —The doctor uses pins and screws to put the broken pieces back together.
- Patellectomy—Rarely, the doctor removes part of the kneecap or the entire kneecap.
After surgery, physical therapy will be needed. This can involve range-of-motion exercises and stretching . In some cases, another surgery will be needed to remove the pins and screws.
Depending on the injury, recovery can take weeks to several months.
To help reduce your chance of a patella fracture:
- Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
- Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
- Build strong muscles to support the knee, prevent falls, and to stay active and agile.
- Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Broken Kneecap; Fracture, Patella; Kneecap Fracture; Patellar Fracture)
American Physical Therapy Association http://www.orthopt.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
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Patellar (kneecap) fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedics website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00523. Updated January 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Stress fractures. The American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acfaom.org/information-for-patients/common-conditions/stress-fractures. Accessed August 30, 2017.
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