Patella Fracture: Episode 85
In this episode: Patella fractures are thankfully not common. They do however; pose a unique set of challenges when recovering from them.
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Brief overview of the episode:
The Patella, better known as the kneecap can sustain a fractured. This will typical happen as a result of trauma, usually a fall directly onto the knee, or any blunt trauma directly to the front of the knee. In rare instances a large eccentric (lengthening while contracting) load through the quadriceps can also cause a patella fracture.
Thankfully a patella fracture makes up only 1% of all bone injuries. This occurs at a 2:1 ratio male to female and generally ages 20-50.
Fractures are labeled either simple or complex. With patella fractures typically a complex fracture is a horizontal break causing disruption of the extensor mechanism, while simple fracture are vertical or partial fractures.
Knee pain following blunt trauma that results in inability or sharp decline in walking ability, as well as swelling, range of motion loss, weakness and difficulty or inability to straighten knee are all signs of patella fracture. X-ray is the best way to visual the patella and will show any fracture.
Treatment will be either surgical for complex fractures or at a minimum bracing for simple. The patella will heal in 6-8 weeks to point where increased physical activity can be performed. Depending on the specifics of the fracture physical therapy will usually be initiated following an immobilization period this can be a short as a few days but will be typically be following 6-8 weeks.
Long-term problems do arise with osteoarthritis. Anytime a surface containing cartilage is damaged there is much higher potential for longer-term arthritic changes. In the short term return to most activities will occur between 3-6 months and return to sport and higher level activities is usually between 6-12 months.
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