Fractures Of The Patella

What are fractures of the patella?

Broken or cracked patella bones are referred to as fractures of the patella, a small, flat, triangular bone that covers and safeguards the front of the knee joint. The severity of patella fractures can range from slight hairline fractures to complete fractures. If you have a patella fracture, your knee may not be able to bend or straighten.

What causes fractures of the patella?

A fall or a car accident can directly injure the knee, resulting in a patella fracture. Alternatively, an indirect force, such as a quick, powerful contraction of the quadriceps muscle, might result in a patella fracture. People who engage in high-impact activities like rugby, netball, or weightlifting are more likely to experience these types of fractures.

Patella fractures can result from the following:

  • Medical conditions - Fractures can become more likely to occur in people with certain medical diseases impacting bone strength, such as bone cancer or hyperparathyroidism.
  • Medications - The risk of fractures can increase with the prolonged use of several drugs, such as corticosteroids.
  • Osteoporosis - Osteoporosis-related bone thinning can increase the risk of fractures.
  • Repetitive stress - Patella stress fractures can result from putting repeated strain on the kneecap.
  • Surgery - Some procedures, including knee replacement and arthroscopy, can raise the risk of a patella fracture.

Types of patella fractures

The most common types of patella fractures that Dr van Niekerk treats include:

  • Comminuted fractures - These fractures result in the patella bone breaking into several fragments, in which case bone reconstruction surgery may be necessary.
  • Displaced fractures - These fractures cause the patella bone to shift significantly, necessitating surgery to realign the bone and restore knee joint function.
  • Open fractures - These fractures are more prone to infection because there is a breach in the skin above the fracture Antibiotics and surgical repair may be needed as part of the treatment for open fractures.
  • Stable fractures are the most frequent kind of patella fracture and typically develop from a hit to the knee. Stable fractures merely need to be immobilised with a brace or cast and do not cause the patella bone to shift significantly.
  • Stress fractures - The patella bone may have developed a few tiny hairline cracks due to frequent stress.
  • Traverse patella fractures - When the patella bone cracks horizontally, usually down the middle, it is classified as a transverse patella fracture.

What are the signs of a patellar fracture?

The following are possible signs of a fractured patella:

  • Audible sound when moving the knee
  • Bruising
  • Limited mobility
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pain
  • Swelling

How does Dr van Niekerk check for fractures of the patella?

In order to determine the severity of the injury, a physical examination, imaging studies, and other testing are frequently used to diagnose a patella fracture. Dr van Niekerk will examine your physical condition and evaluate the mobility of your knee joint in addition to looking for any soreness, swelling, or bruising near your kneecap. In order to confirm the diagnosis and assess the size and location of the fracture, imaging procedures such as X-rays or CT scans may be requested. An MRI may also be utilised to get more precise images of the ligaments or cartilage surrounding the fracture and other soft tissues. In order to assess the severity of the injury and choose the most appropriate course of therapy, other diagnostic tests could be requested in addition to imaging testing. For instance, a bone scan can be used to evaluate the blood flow to the bone and spot any injury that isn't immediately apparent on an X-ray. It's critical to make a timely diagnosis of a patella fracture to receive the proper care and avoid long-term problems.

How do you treat fractures of the patella?

Treatment options may include the following:

  • Immobilisation - Immobilisation, such as a brace or cast, may be used to treat stable patella fractures that do not result in considerable displacement of the patella bone to promote bone healing. Depending on the degree of the fracture, the immobilisation time may range from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Pain management - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), for example, can be used to treat pain brought on by a patella fracture. Prescription medicines may be necessary if the discomfort is severe.
  • Physiotherapy - After a patella fracture, rehabilitation, which frequently includes physical therapy, is required to return the knee joint to its original state of function. Exercises to increase flexibility and strength and methods to lessen discomfort and swelling may be included in physical therapy.
  • Surgery - Surgery to realign and stabilise the bone may be necessary for fractures that are displaced or that cause instability in the knee The knee joint's soft tissue may also need to be repaired if it has been damaged. Wires, screws, or plates are used to hold the bone in place.


What surgeries treat patella fractures?

Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), tension band wiring, and partial or complete patellectomy are some of the surgical procedures Dr van Niekerk uses to treat patella fractures.

How long does patella fracture surgery take?

Patella fracture surgery typically takes 1-2 hours, although this time may increase if there are other difficulties. Based on your particular case, Dr van Niekerk can estimate the anticipated surgery time more precisely.

How long does recovery from surgery for a patella fracture take?

It can take several months to recover fully after surgery.