A patella fracture is a painful and limiting injury that should be addressed immediately.  The thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and patella (knee cap) are the three knee bones. Each one has a unique structure and shape that enables the knee to support and move the lower body. The patella is a unique knee bone. It has the important job of protecting the knee and bending and straightening the leg. Because the patella rests on top of the knee joint, it is susceptible to fracture when a person falls on or experiences a direct blow to their knee.


Types and Causes of Patella Fractures

The three types of patella fracture include the following:

  1. Stable patella fracture. These fractures or breaks are typically hairline or minimally displaced fractures only separated by less than two millimeters. These patients typically are able to straight leg raise. Stable patella fractures are usually treated by immobilizing the knee.


  1. Displaced patella fractures. Broken pieces of bone are separated and patella anatomy is affected. Displaced patella fractures typically require surgical intervention.


  1. Comminuted patella fractures. The patella shatters into three or more pieces. Comminuted fractures are treated based on their severity. Nonsurgical and surgical treatment measures may be used.


These three types of patella fractures are commonly caused by the following:

  1. A Fall. Falling directly on the knee can cause a patella fracture. Falls may occur will walking, running, or participating in exercise programs or sports. They may also occur due to being tripped or pushed.


  1. A Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA). During a motor vehicle accident, the knee may slam against the dashboard or seat and the patella may fracture. The severity of patella fracture caused my MVAs can range from mild to severe.


  1. A Muscle Imbalance. Strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings can cause the quadriceps tendon to place an excessive amount of force of the patella. If a quadriceps/hamstring muscle imbalance is not corrected, it can lead to a patella fracture.

Once the type and cause of a patella fracture are determined, appropriate treatment options can be prescribed.


Seeking Treatment for a Patella Fracture

Orthopedic specialists are the most qualified medical professionals to take care of patella fractures and other knee injuries or conditions. If you’re having patella fracture symptoms, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our 5 Long Island or Brooklyn offices. One of our orthopedic specialists will find out exactly what is causing your problem and come up with a solution that’s right for you.  The road to a full recovery starts when you walk through our doors.

The physicians at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine focus on both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of bone and joint injuries.  Renowned experts Dr. Charles Ruotolo and Dr. Richard McCormack lead our Knee Team.   Fortunately, many patients can be treated non-surgically with a combination of conservative modalities coordinated by the Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team. If surgery is necessary, the practice uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  When in the right hands, a full recovery is entirely possible.