The patella is part of the knee joint. It is formed between the tendons that connect the thigh bone (femur) to the leg bone (tibia). It protects the front of the knee joint and acts as a point of support, providing increased power to the thigh muscles, which extend the knee. The inner portion of the patella does come in contact with the thigh bone part of the knee joint.
Some common causes of this injury include:
Sharp blow to the knee (eg, during sports, a fall, or a car accident)
Excessive stress on the knee (eg, during weight lifting, stair climbing, or overexercising a healing knee)
These factors increase your chance of developing a patella fracture:
Participation in contact sports (eg, football, soccer)
, which places strain on muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments
Violence, such as car or car-pedestrian accidents
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to a patella fracture. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Sudden, excruciating pain in the kneecap
Swelling and tenderness
Inability to extend the knee
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam. The doctor will look closely at the knee to see if there are signs of
. Tests may include:
Straight leg test—a test to see if you are able to raise your leg while lying flat; if you are unable to, this could be a sign of a fracture
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones, to look for a break in the bone
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body, shows more detailed imaging
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
Talk with your doctor about the best
for you. Treatment options include the following:
After the tests, your doctor will determine whether you need surgery. If the patella is not badly injured, your doctor will place the knee in a
. This cast may need to be worn for six weeks. After that, you will wear a knee brace and do physical therapy. You may need to use a
Your doctor may recommend pain medication to reduce pain and swelling.
If the patella is in pieces, then you will need surgery. There are two 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—The doctor removes part of the kneecap or the entire kneecap.
After surgery, you will need to do physical therapy. This can involve range-of-motion exercises and
. You will slowly build strength in the injured leg. In some cases, another surgery will be
needed to remove the
Depending on the injury, recovery can take weeks to several months.
To help reduce your chance of getting a patella fracture, take the following steps:
Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a