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The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons noted that in 2003, about 19.4 million visits to the doctors were due to knee problems. The knee can be easily injured, and one area of the knee that may become injured is the patella, or knee cap.
There are several different types of disorders of the patella.
About 1 percent of all fractures are patellar fractures, which are more common among men and individuals between the ages of 20 and 50, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. When the patella becomes fractured, the extent of the injury can range from a slight crack of the bone to several broken pieces.
Depending on how the patella was injured, patients can have fractures at the bottom, top, center or more than one area of the knee cap. A patellar fracture may occur from a fall or accident.
Symptoms include bruising and being unable to walk. Some patients who do not have displaced pieces of bone may wear casts or splints and may not need surgery. For patients with displaced pieces of bones, they may need surgery.
With chondromalacia patella, patients have a breakdown of the cartilage that lines the back of the patella. This disorder of the patella occurs in adolescents and young adults and is more common in women than men.
Chondromalacia patella occurs when the knee cap rubs against the thigh bone, which can happen with patients who have flat feet, poor alignment of the patellofermoral joint, or those who do too much physical activity that puts excess stress on the patella.
Symptoms include knee pain and tenderness, and a grinding sensation when flexing the knee. Treatment includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.
Patients with prepatellar bursitis have swelling of the bursa, which is in front of the knee cap. This inflammation can occur in people who kneel for work, play sports where they fall on their knees or receive blows to the knees, were in a motor vehicle accident, or patients suffering from gout or rheumatoid arthritis.