An injury characterized by a break in the patella bone, a large bone located at the front of the knee. This bone both protects and supports the front of the knee joint.
A patella fracture is a common result of a direct blow to the knee, such as in automobile crashes where a person strikes their knee against the dashboard. Also, exerting excessive pressure on the knee (through activities like weight lifting or climbing) can also be a cause of this type of fracture.
Symptoms of a patella fracture include moderate to severe pain in the knee, swelling and bruising to the area and inability to extend or walk on the affected leg.
If the patella is not severely injured, the affected person can wear a cast around their knee until the bone heals on its own. After it has healed completely, physical therapy may be done to improve range-of-motion and strength to the injured area.
If the patella is severely injured (broken into pieces) the affected person will have to undergo surgery. There are two types of surgery that may be issued to a person with a patella fracture:
- Open reduction – A surgical procedure where the broken pieces of the patella are put back together and re-positioned, using metal plates and screws to hold them together.
- Patellectomy – A surgical procedure where a partial or complete kneecap is removed.
Physical therapy is assigned after a person has surgery for a patella fracture.