doctor treating a Broken Knee Cap

Broken & Shattered Knee | Symptoms, Treatments & Pictures

A patellar fracture is a fracture of the patella, a small bone that sits in front of the knee. It acts as a shield for the knee joint and is therefore susceptible to fractures if you fall on the knee or hit it against the dashboard in a collision with a vehicle. It is a serious injury that can make it difficult or impossible to straighten the knee while walking.

In most patellar fractures, a piece of bone is removed from the injury site. Simple patella tendon fractures can be treated by wearing a cast or splint until the bone has healed.

For more complex fractures, surgery may be required to restore and stabilize the kneecap and allow a return to function.

Broken Knee Cap Pictures

Underneath are some pictures of a broken knee.

How To Tell If Your Knee Is Broken

Patellar fractures occur when you fall on your knee or get a sharp blow, such as in a head-on collision with a vehicle where the kneecap is driven into the dashboard.

Patella fractures are the strongest contractions of the quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh. These are the most direct blows to the front and back of the knee. This is a patella tendon fracture.

Symptoms Of A Broken Knee

Symptoms include:

  • severe pain in the kneecap
  • swelling
  • pain when moving the knee in any direction
  • difficulty stretching the leg or lifting the leg
  • a deformed appearance of the knee (like a broken piece)
  • tenderness when pressing against the knee

Discuss your symptoms and medical history with your doctor so they can examine your knee.

The edge of the fracture can feel as if the skin around the knee has been moved. After the examination, your doctor will determine whether you have hemarthrosis (bleeding in the joint).

Blood from the broken bone accumulates in the joint space, causing painful swelling. If you have a large amount of blood on your knee, the doctor will drain it to relieve pain.

man with broken knee

Broken Knee X-Ray

Your doctor may order an X-ray to diagnose your fracture. X-rays provide an image of dense structures such as bones. Your doctor can arrange an X-ray from different angles to look for fractures and see the alignment of the bones.

An X-ray will determine whether you have a Bipartite patella. This forms when a part of the patella doesn’t fully heal along the bony sides of the patella.

A bipartite patella is often mistaken for a fracture. X-rays can help identify bipartisanship in the patellas.

Many people with this condition have it in both knees, so your doctor may also perform an X-ray of your other knee. In rare circumstances, it is possible a person is born with extra bones in the patella that have not grown properly.

Treatment For Broken Knee

Broken pieces of bone that are too small to fix can be removed. The surgeon can open the skin and insert the broken bone into a metal wire, pin or screw. In some patients, thin wires, pins, and screws can be irritating.

The broken bone is connected, the opening is closed, and a sterile bandage is placed over the area. The knee is placed in plaster or another device so that it cannot move until it heals. If the kneecap is broken and cannot be repaired, it can also be removed.

A complete or partial patellectomy is a two-hour procedure in which the kneecap is completely or partially removed.

It preserves the quadriceps tendon in the knee, the patellar tendon, and other soft tissues around the knee.

If your surgeon determines that the fracture is severe enough to repair, he or she will remove the damaged piece of bone. After surgery, you may be able to lengthen your knee, but it can be weak.

woman with broken knee

Aftercare And Recovery For Broken Knee

Contact sports or other activities that strain the knee can increase the risk of injury to the kneecap.

You should avoid these activities and use knee pads to cushion the impact through contact sports.

Learn in physiotherapy how to prevent knee stress and how continuous strengthening and conditioning of your leg muscles can help prevent further knee injuries. When your kneecaps heal, strengthening the muscles in the knee can help prevent further injury.

Your best training options are low-impact, non-weight stationary bikes and certain weight-lifting programs because the knee cannot absorb the shock. Most fractures will hurt for a few days to a few weeks.

Using ice, lifting the affected leg, and taking over-the-counter painkillers may be enough to ease the discomfort.

Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs such as opioids for a short time for severe pain. It is important to take opioids only on your doctor’s instructions and to stop taking them when your pain begins to improve.

Remember that opioid drugs can help relieve pain after surgery, but addiction and overdose have become top public health issues.

Rehabilitation is important in getting you back to your normal activities, regardless of whether surgery is involved or not.

To recover from a patellar fracture, the affected leg must be immobilized over a longer period, leading to stiff feelings and muscle wastage.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for maintaining your plaster, immobilizing, and wearing protective supports to keep your knee from moving. During rehabilitation, your doctor or therapist can perform specific exercises to improve knee motion, strengthen your leg muscles and reduce stiffness.

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