Broken Kneecap: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

A broken kneecap, or broken patella, is fairly rare — the condition accounts for an estimated 1% of all skeletal injuries. However, when this injury does occur, it is vital to seek the care of an experienced orthopedic physician.

At EmergeOrtho, we have an entire team of board-certified orthopedic physicians and surgeons dedicated to addressing conditions and injuries of the knee. Our fellowship-trained doctors are renowned for personalizing treatment plans to help you get back on your feet.

High-Quality Care for Broken Kneecaps

Also known as a patellar fracture, a broken kneecap typically occurs due to a fall or direct blow to the kneecap. Indirect fractures can also happen as a result of sudden muscle contraction of the quadriceps musculature.

Since the small patella bone on top of the knee serves as a guard, any direct blow can cause a fracture. For example, direct blows may include sports injuries such as getting hit by a baseball or lacrosse stick or hitting your knee on the dashboard of a car in an accident. Often, patients know when they have a broken kneecap. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Inability to stand and/or walk
  • Inability to straighten the knee
  • Swelling on the front of the knee
  • Inability to keep the knee extended
  • Deformity

Once your doctor X-rays and examines your knee, they can make one of four types of patellar fracture diagnoses:

  • Comminuted Fracture: The patella shatters into three or more pieces.
  • Displaced Fracture: The broken ends of the patella separate, disrupting the smooth joint surface.
  • Open Fracture: Broken pieces of the patella bone break through the skin and typically damage the surrounding soft tissues of the knee.
  • Stable Fracture: The pieces of the broken kneecap are still connected, with a millimeter or two of separation.

An orthopedic knee specialist will determine whether non-operative or surgical intervention treatment methods are warranted based on your diagnosis. Our EmergeOrtho knee team will create an individual treatment plan to ensure the safest, most effective recovery for your injury.

What Kind of Treatment Options are Available for a Broken Kneecap?

If your knee injury is less severe, your orthopedic doctor will likely recommend a conservative treatment method. Splinting with a cast or brace and weight-bearing restrictions are often the most effective treatment approaches for a stable fracture.

If your broken patella diagnosis is severe and the bones are displaced, surgical intervention will have the best outcome for recovery. An open fracture may even require immediate surgical intervention for the best healing results. Our EmergeOrtho knee surgeons perform several advanced knee surgeries to address varying types of patellar fractures, utilizing state-of-the-art technology and innovative approaches.

Both non-operative and surgical treatments for kneecap fractures include an element of rehabilitation for optimum healing. Your surgeon will likely recommend physical therapy or special exercises and stretches to help:

  • Strengthen the muscles of the legs surrounding the knee
  • Improve range of motion and movement in the knee
  • Decrease stiffness and improve mobility of the knee

Finding Treatment for Broken Kneecaps

A broken kneecap is not an injury that you can live with. Even if you have a minor patellar fracture, it is essential that you get treatment as soon as possible.

For the best treatment, we recommend that you visit an orthopedic knee specialist at EmergeOrtho. Our specialists bring cutting-edge treatment and personalized plans to every patient to help them Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

If you suspect you have a broken kneecap, do not wait to seek treatment! Walk-in today. EmergeOrtho offers orthopedic urgent care across the state. Find your nearest urgent care location now or request a consultation with the EmergeOrtho Knee Team.

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