What are Patellar Fractures?

Talking about patella fractures, it is referred to the breaking of the bone that is located near the knee joint. Medically speaking, the patella is also known as a sesamoid bone which is a circular bone which is covered by a tendon.

This tendon acts like a protective shield and protects the joint. The patella is quite important as the ligaments attach it to both the quads which are the thigh muscles and the shinbone which is the tibia.

Physiotherapy for knee pain is quite a popular technique used to treat patellar fractures. It offers short-term pain relief and long-term therapeutic treatment due to injuries to tendons and ligaments.

What Are the Different Kinds of Patellar Fractures?

There are different types of patella fractures because there are different mechanisms involved. The severity of injuries also varies from time to time. The severity also depends on your weight and pre-existing health conditions. Here are different types of fractures- 

  • Non-displaced fractures happen when the bone is broken but the patella has not been shifted out of place. 
  • Displaced fractures happen when the bone breaks and the patella is taken out of place. 
  • Closed kneecap fractures are when the patella is broken but does not pierce the skin. 
  • Open kneecap fractures are those when the patella is broken and pierces out of the skin which creates a severe wound.  
  • A patella fracture happens where the bone shatters into multiple pieces. This is called a comminuted patella fracture. 
  • A non-Comminuted fracture occurs when the kneecap bone shatters in two pieces. 
  • A stress fracture, also known as a hairline kneecap fracture, is a crack in the bone, where the patellar bone is still in one piece. This kind of condition is quite common with athletes, especially runners, and is a common consequence of overuse. 
  • In children, patellar sleeve injuries are very common between ages 8-12, due to spurs in growth. This injury is caused due to pulling out of the patella from its sleeve cartilage due to bone growth. Although the bone is not broken, the treatment is quite similar which is usually physiotherapy for knee pain.

What Are the Causes of Patellar Fractures?

The common causes of patellar fractures include the following- 

  • Sudden hard impact on the knee. If you fall on a hard surface as concrete patellar fractures can happen. 
  • If you play sports, overuse can be a reason behind hairline fractures to your patella. Sometimes, a direct hill from a ball, bat, or stick might also be the reason behind your injury. 
  • Car accidents have intense sudden impacts where your knee cap might be shattered due to a hit on the dashboard. 
  • If you are a victim of gunshot wounds. 
  • Sudden tendon and muscle pulls that affect the kneecap and break it apart.

Also Read: Knee Stiffness – Causes, Treatment and Exercises

What Are the Symptoms of Patellar Fractures?

The symptoms of Patellar fractures are the following- 

  • Intense pain around the knee, especially near the kneecap. 
  • Bruising and inflammation. 
  • Swelling around the knee cap, which is quite common with both severe and mild cases. 
  • Loss of range of motion in the knee.
  • Unable to bend or straighten the knee without pain. 
  • Unable to walk, or stand without pain. 
  • In severe cases, bone can protrude from the skin of the knee. 
  • Knees can get deformed because of serious injuries and fractures. If you have this symptom, then immediately visit your emergency care room and contact a doctor for an urgent clinical examination of your knee.

How Are Patellar Fractures Diagnosed?

Patellar fractures are diagnosed using the following techniques- 

  • Your doctor takes a comprehensive clinical history where they ask about your trauma, accidents, and past injuries. 
  • Your doctor also performs a thorough physical examination where they check the kneecap and look for any obvious deformities. They apply mild pressure to the affected kneecap and try to bend or straighten them to see if it reveals any underlying issues. 
  • X-rays and MRIs are quite common examinations as well. It helps the doctor take a closer look at the injury.

What Are the Treatment Options for Patellar Fractures?

There are a lot of options that you can try for patellar fractures, but mostly they will depend on the severity of your injury. Some of the common treatment options are- 

  • Physiotherapy for knee pain is not just an elementary treatment protocol that only works for some people, but it is a long lasting treatment protocol. The great thing about physiotherapy is that it is not limiting, and has something for everyone with any fitness level or any lifestyle. It is a great drug-free, non-invasive technique to work on long-term prevention measures and short-term pain management. 
  • Most patellar fractures need some form of an urgent care before trying out options like physiotherapy for knee pain. Patella fractures cn cause a lot of internal bleeding in the joints and emergency treatment can help drain the excess blood and fluid that will ease the inflammation and pain to start the healing process. 
  • Compression for the knee in the form of a knee cap brace, and supportive equipment like a splint can help your knee cap heal faster. 
  • Pain medications to control short-term painful symptoms. 
  • Reducing and correcting your movement of the knee to help your injury heal quicker.

Also Read: Interferential Therapy (IFT) in Physiotherapy

For more information about knee pain and physiotherapy for knee pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of knee exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!