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Patella Fracture | Classification | Complications | Post Operative Care

Updated: Mar 30

What is a patella fracture?

A patella fracture is a break in the small bone that sits at the front part of the knee. This bone is called a patella or knee cap. The main role of the patella is a shield for the knee joint, it is under the risk of fracture when you directly fall onto your knees or when you get hit in a vehicle collision. Since patella injury is one of the serious injuries that can happen, it can complicate or even prevent you from walking or even straighten the knee.

However, some simpler injuries related to patellar fracture can be recovered by a patient wearing a cast. Nevertheless, note that in most instances where patella fracture is involved, pieces of a bone moves out of its place when the area is injured. In these cases, patients will need to undergo a surgical operation in order to restore and stabilize the kneecap. This, in turn, enables the knee function normally again.

Types of patella fractures

A stable fracture arises when the knee cap remains nondisplaced after the injury. In this scenario, the parts of the bone may stay in contact with each other or simply be parted few millimeters. During the healing period of injury bones generally, remain in place.

When a displaced fracture occurs, the broken edges of the bone are not lining up precisely and get separated. This may also generate a disrupted joint which usually had a smooth joint surface. Patients experiencing this type of fracture often needs to have a surgical operation in order to get the pieces of bone back together again.

In comminuted fracture patient’s bone breaks into three or more parts. However, depending on the particular pattern of the fracture the patient experiences, a comminuted fracture may be either stable or unstable.

In addition, sometimes the bone can break in such a way that bone fragments could stick out through the skin which is called an open fracture. An open fracture may take a very long time to heal since it often includes damage to the encompassing soft tissues.


Generally, traumatic ruptures of the patella are labeled as transverse, vertical, comminuted, marginal or osteochondral. Transverse fractures happen horizontally beyond the patella and are most frequently because of an incidental shock on the patella.

Vertical fractures may be stable and handled conservatively and usually run from the inferior to the superior pole.

Fractures to the edges of the patella happen at the perimeter of the patella. This can happen usually because of a direct force to the side of the patella.

Comminuted fractures are frequently observed in numerous times injured patients. When comminuted fractures happen, it is presented with a huge level of soft tissue injury.

Complications include the loss of knee motion

The most typical complication following patellar fractures is a limited range of movement. Mainly, complicating factors include infections, extended postoperative immobilization, and as well as incorrect rehabilitation.

Loss of reduction

Nearly up to 20% of operatively treated patellar fractures involve loss of reduction.  This is normally associated with technical failures, most generally including an inappropriate placement. The latter progressively causes create mobility failure and fracture-dislocation.

Post-operative Care

Patients may continue their usual diet. Nevertheless, they need to begin gradually with clear liquids and steadily work their way back to a natural diet. Following the order will assist to overcome any nausea and vomiting.

Although you may find a cold therapy unit as an optional choice, it can further help to lessen the pain involved and as well as swelling. Patients may apply it for half an hour at a time every hour they wish.

However, they must guard their skin against being in direct contact with the cold therapy pad at all times implementing an in-between zone of dressing or cloth.

All patients need to follow their pain medication as they have been prescribed.

Physical therapy

If you have recovered after experiencing a patella fracture injury and you can bend your damaged knee without feeling hurt, then Hydroactive experts may suggest you have physical therapy.

This is typically advised one to six weeks following injury. Physical therapists at the Hydroactive Rehabilitation center can design a rehabilitation program to support you regain your strength and flexibility in the knee and encompassing muscles.

You can further restore the range of motion of your knee through physical therapy. Easy weight-bearing activities, such as leg raises, can help to stimulate the muscles around the area of the injured knee. Healthy muscles increase flexibility and also helps the knee by protecting it from another injury.

Your physical therapist may also suggest you include manageable stretching and strengthening moves in your home routine in among sessions. You can continue to have physical therapy once a week for six to eight weeks or when your injury is healed entirely.

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