The Pain Behind Knee Fracture

Symptoms and diagnosis for Knee Fracture
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Knee Fracture Main

What is define by Knee Fracture?

The kneecap is a small bone at the front of the knee at the point where the thigh bone and shin bone meet. It protects the knee joint and connects muscles from the shin bone to the thigh. Types of knee fracture include:

  • Stable fracture: the bone remains in line and can heal easily
  • Displaced fracture: the bone is broken and separated, and the joint surface (cartilage) may also be damaged
  • Comminuted fracture: the bone breaks into more than three pieces. It can be stable or displaced
  • Open fracture: the bone breaks through the skin and surrounding tissue is damaged; these fractures are the most serious because infection can develop both in the wound and the bone

What are some symptoms of Knee Fracture?

Knee fracture can cause severe knee pain and difficulty walking. Some of the more common symptoms of this injury include:

  • Pain: Keeping the knee straight can help significantly with discomfort, and bending the joint is typically very painful.
  • Swelling: Swelling and bruising around the front of the knee is typical of a patella fracture. Often, as days go by, the swelling extends down the leg and even into the foot. It is not uncommon for the bruising to also extend into the calf and foot over several days.
  • Inability to lift leg: The most common test to diagnose this injury is called a straight leg raise test. This test finding may be present with other injuries but can help determine when treatment is necessary.
  • A palpable defect in the kneecap: Depending on the type of fracture, the damage to the kneecap can sometimes be felt through the skin. The ability to feel the patella fracture is easiest soon after the injury before swelling has become more significant.

“The knee can fracture in many ways. A fracture may be a simple, clean, two-piece break or the bone can break into many pieces.”

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What types of diagnosis?

During the exam, our Specialist will check for hemarthrosis. In this condition, blood from the fractured bone ends collects inside the joint space, causing painful swelling. If you have a large amount of blood in your knee, our doctor may drain it to help relieve your pain.

Our Orthopaedic Specialist will also order x-rays to help diagnose your fracture.

Possible treatment methods?

The treatment of knee fracture depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If the pieces of bone are not out of place (displaced), you may not need surgery. Our Specialist may apply a cast or splint to keep your knee straight and help prevent motion in your leg. This will keep the broken ends of bone in proper position while they heal.

Depending upon your specific fracture, you may be allowed to bear weight on your leg while wearing a cast or brace. With some fractures, however, weight bearing is not allowed for 6 to 8 weeks. Our doctor will talk with you about restrictions on weight bearing.

Surgical Treatment

If the pieces of bone are out of place (displaced), you will most likely need surgery. Fractured patellar bones that are not close together often have difficulty healing or may not heal. The thigh muscles that attach to the top of the patella are very strong and can pull the broken pieces out of place during healing.

If the skin around your fracture has not been broken, our surgeon may recommend waiting until any abrasions have healed before having surgery.

One treatment is by having an incision is made over the front of the knee joint. The fractured ends of the bone are realigned and held in place with some combination of pins, screws, and wires. In some cases, a portion of the patella can simply be removed, but this is usually done for smaller fracture fragments.

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