What is an Acute Patella Injury?
An acute patella injury is an injury to the kneecap as the result of a direct hit or fall onto the knee. The type of kneecap injury varies and can include fracture of the patella, a dislocated kneecap, and chondromalacia patellae. (Please see Dislocated Knee and Chondromalacia Patellae for details on these conditions.)
A kneecap fracture can occur when the knee is hit with great force or when the quadriceps are contracted much too forcefully. A fractured kneecap can consist of a single crack or multiple cracks.
Symptoms of a Kneecap Fracture
Individuals who have a kneecap fracture experience a great deal of pain and swelling, and the knee is very difficult to bend. If the kneecap has cracked completely, the individual may feel a gap in the kneecap.
Treatment of a Kneecap Fracture
A suspected kneecap fracture demands immediate medical attention with x-rays to confirm the break. If the fracture is small, a plaster cast worn for six weeks may be adequate to heal the fracture. Fractures that are more serious or complex require surgery. Wires are typically placed during surgery to facilitate repair of the kneecap. In severe cases, the kneecap may be removed.
Following kneecap fracture surgery, some patients can begin using a knee brace after only two to three weeks of wearing a cast. Rehabilitation typically includes exercises in a pool and buoyancy exercises.