A Broken Knee Cap Guide

A broken knee cap, or patella to give the proper broken kneecap medical term, is a serious injury, and a fairly common one. If you break a knee cap, you will be off your feet and unable to walk for several weeks, at least until the bone starts to mend. Within this short guide, you will find information on just what a broken knee cap is, how it is caused, what the broken kneecap symptoms are and how it is treated.

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What is a Broken Knee Cap?

A broken knee cap happens when the small bone, the patella, which covers the front of your knee joint, is broken. This is usually caused by blunt trauma. When the knee cap breaks, it will take 6 to 8 weeks to heal.

Broken Knee Cap Key Facts

Your knee cap is a convex bone, which fits over the front of your knee to protect the ligaments and tendons which hold the joint of the knee together. And whilst the knee cap does not function as part of the joint and its movement, a fracture of the knee cap will mean the whole knee must be immobilized whilst the knee cap heals.

In active adults, the primary cause of a broken knee cap is through sporting injuries. And not surprisingly, men suffer the most from this injury, which in itself, is primarily due to the fact that more men tend to participate in sports which could result in a fractured knee cap more often than women do.

Percentage of Broken Knee by Sex and Age

Percentage of Broken Knee by Sex and Age

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Knee Cap?

A fracture of the patella is a very painful injury. In itself, it is enough to stop a person wanting to walk on the injured leg, as every flex of the knee will cause a sharp pain. A broken knee cap untreated can lead to several complications, and therefore it is important that you know the symptoms, so that you can answer the question how can you tell if you have a broken knee cap? Correctly, and ensure that you know exactly when to seek medical attention for this type of knee injury.

  • Severe pain – this is a very painful injury and bending the knee will always result in some level of pain. To reduce pain, straighten the knee and leave it straight.
  • Significant swelling – you will see that the knee is swollen, and you may also have a bruised kneecap.
  • Cannot lift foot – this is a common way to check for hairline fractured kneecap symptoms. If you cannot lift your foot from the floor by bending your knee without pain, you may have a fractured patella.
  • Deformed knee cap – in extreme cases, you will be able to feel through the skin of the knee that your knee cap is damaged and misshapen.

The answer to the question can you break your knee cap and not know it? Is in reality, no, as one or more of the above symptoms will always be present.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Knee Cap?

The most common cause of a broken knee cap is direct trauma, such as falling down or being in a motor vehicle accident. If you were to look at a picture of fractured knee cap caused by direct trauma, you would likely see that the skin over the knee cap is probably torn or cut, making it an open fracture.

For athletes and sportsmen, an eccentric contraction can lead to a fractured knee cap. This happens when the quadriceps muscle contracts for some reason (such as cramping) while the knee joint is in the process of straightening the leg.

For some people, with conditions which affect how easily their bones break, even minor injuries to the knee can result in a fractured knee cap.

When Should You Seek Medical Care for a Broken Knee Cap?

If you have been treated for a broken knee cap, and then sent home from the hospital, you must check that none of the following symptoms occurs. If they do, you must visit your doctor immediately.

  • Swelling of the knee has increased, not decreased after a few days.
  • The level of pain is increasing after the first day or two.
  • The skin changes colour on, above or below the knee.
  • You see signs of infection such as inflammation, redness or you develop a fever.

How to Get a Free Expert Orthopaedic Assessment for Your Broken Bone Report

As part of your fractured kneecap NHS treatment, you will have been sent for either an x-ray or an MRI scan to diagnose the severity of your injury. The results of this test will be used by your doctor to create a broken bone report. This is a key stage of your treatment and recovery and is used to decide which treatment is best for you. You are able to request a copy of this broken bone report to take home if you wish.

You may not realise it, but you may be eligible to claim a free expert orthopaedic assessment of your fractured knee cap broken bone report. This private assessment will help you discover whether there is any better treatment which could reduce your broken knee cap healing time. Call us today and find out if you are eligible for this free medical care.

How is a Broken Knee Cap Diagnosed?

Before the hospital can proceed with your broken knee cap care, a doctor needs to discover how badly the knee cap is fractured, this is done using one of two standard tests.

  • For simple fractures, an x-ray is used to find out how badly the knee cap is fractured, and whether the bone needs to be reconstructed before it can heal properly.
  • For complex fractures, or if your doctor suspects a hairline fracture of the knee cap, an MRI scan might be done instead of an x-ray.

How is a Broken Knee Cap Treated?

The primary driver of broken knee cap treatment is whether the patient can perform a straight leg raise (which was discussed earlier in this guide). If they can, then with this type of broken knee cap no surgery is required. The doctor will simply apply either a knee brace or a cast, to immobilize the knee joint whilst the knee cap heals.

If the patient cannot perform a straight leg raise, the corrective surgery will be needed to rebuild the knee joint and reposition the knee cap properly. An incision will be made at the front of the joint, and the knee cap and the leg bones will be realigned and kept in places using surgical pins, screws and plates. These will be removed once healing is completed. The doctor will then use a knee brace or cast to immobilize the knee whilst it heals.

What Free Private Treatment Can I Qualify For?

If you have recently broken your knee cap and had a broken knee cap operation, then how well and how fast you heal will depend on the quality of the treatment you receive. Whilst there is nothing wrong with NHS treatment for a broken knee cap, private medical treatment is far better.

You may have access to a number of free private medical treatments in your area. If you would like to know more, then give us a call. We will be able to tell you straight away if any free private health care is available in your area.

Caring for Your Broken Knee Cap at Home

The answer to the question, can you walk with a broken knee cap? is most definitely no, not for the first few weeks at least. How long you have to wait for your broken knee cap to heal, depends on how well you care for your own injury when you are sent home from the hospital. The tips below will help you care for your injury better:

Rest is the best way to help your broken knee mend faster. You should keep your leg straight, and attempt to not bend the knee at all for the first two weeks, as the bone begins to knit. Your knee brace or cast should help with this, but the knee can still flex a little inside the cast or brace, so you need to make sure you do all you can to keep it straight during this critical stage of the healing process.

You should keep your leg propped up at first, to help reduce swelling. With a broken knee cap no swelling is a good sign, it shows the tissue around the joint is mending, and keeping it raised helps with this.

With a broken knee cap no pain after a week or two is a good sign. At this stage, your doctor will probably recommend some simple exercises you can perform, to help your knee cap recover with more strength.

Is There Any Other Good Treatment I Can Get for Free?

You might be able to claim some additional free medical support to help with your recovery from a broken knee cap. For example, there may be pain meds for broken knee cap available for free in your area.

Call us now, and we can let you know within a short phone call, whether there are any free medical supplies you could claim in your area, based on your postcode.

Follow Up for a Broken Knee Cap

Whilst you are in recovery from a broken knee cap, you will need to visit the hospital every 2 or 3 weeks. At these check-ups, the doctor will make sure that your injury is healing properly, and that no complications have set in which could slow or even prevent your recovery.

How Long Does a Broken Knee Cap Take to Heal?

The answer to the question, how long does it take to recover from a fractured patella? Will depend on the severity of the original injury. Generally, the healing time for this type of fracture is 6 to 8 weeks.

However, full recovery time will be longer, as you will need physiotherapy to get your knee joint working again with 100% functionality. With a fractured knee cap, no pain is a sign that you can begin walking on your cast or brace, which will aid you in rehabilitation, strengthening the leg a little before the cast comes off.

It should be noted, that if you had to have reconstructive surgery to realign the bones of your knee before your fractured knee cap could heal, your recovery time could be slightly longer, as you will have to have a second surgical procedure to remove the surgical fixation that was used to keep the knee cap in place as it healed.

How Can I Recover Safer and Possibly Faster?

With a broken knee cap physical therapy is always needed to some extent or another, to get the knee joint and the whole leg used to being used again fully. Your leg an knee will be stiff and weak when your cast or brace comes off, and physio is needed to counter this problem.

You may have access to some free private physiotherapy in your area. This will help you get back on your feet again and rehabilitated far faster. Give us a call now, and once we know your postcode, we can let you know if there is free physio for a broken knee available in your area.

What is the Prognosis for a Broken Knee Cap?

Although a fractured kneecap is a serious injury, it is also one which most people make a full recovery from within 2 to 3 months. Initially, there will be a period on incapacitation, but after 2 to 3 weeks, it should be possible to walk on the knee, using crutches or another form of walking aid.

Complications are possible but are not common, and the long-term prognosis is positive, despite there being a number of relatively rare long-term effects of a broken knee cap.

A single caveat remains to be discussed, in the form of arthritis. This is a common long-term side effect of a broken knee cap. Even if the short-term prognosis is good, the long-term prognosis will likely include arthritis to some degree.

What are the Possible Complications of a Broken Knee Cap?

By far the most common complication with a broken knee cap relates to cases where corrective surgery has been used to realign the bones. As the bones heal, the pins, screws and plates used to keep them in place, begin to cause pain. This requires a further surgical procedure to cure. Other possible complications of a fractured knee are:

  • Infection – primarily caused by surgical procedures used to realign the bones before they can mend.
  • Non-healing (nonunion) – a broken knee cap not healing because the two parts of the break could not join and begin to knit together because they were too far apart, or something was in the way.
  • Failure of fixation – where surgical pins, plates and screws fail to keep the bones straight whilst they heal.
  • Pain in the knee cap (chondromalacia) – this is caused by a variety of things, including bad fixation, or a faulty cast/brace.

If you are recovering from a broken knee cap, and you believe you may be suffering from one of these complications, then you must contact your doctor straight away to confirm is, and have the complication treated. Your broken knee cap surgery recovery time will be seriously lengthened if you fail to have these complications treated.

Do You Think Your Doctor Might Have Missed Something About Your Injury?

Whilst you are being treated for your broken knee cap, you may come to suspect that some of the treatment you have received has been performed badly or incorrectly. If you have suspicions that some form of medical malpractice has taken place, you are going to need to learn about your injury and its treatment in more detail. All of the websites below give much deeper information about fractured knee cap injuries:

Knee Pain Information – NHS

Broken Knee Cap Information – Medline Plus

Traumatic Knee Injury Information – East Lancashire Hospitals

Are There Any Long-Term Health Issues Caused by a Broken Knee Cap?

The single most common long-term effect of a fractured knee cap is the onset of arthritis in the knee joint pater in life.

As the bones of the knee mend, they grow bone scar tissue. This scar tissue scrapes and rubs at the cartilage of the joint, eventually leaving almost none in place to ease the joint as it moves. This results in arthritis eventually.

This form of arthritis in a mild form can be treated using anti-inflammatory medication, or in some cases, minor surgery to repair some of the cartilage.

In more severe cases of arthritis following a broken knee, a full or partial knee replacement may be required.

Contact Us to Find Out if You Qualify for Free Private Treatment

Have you recently been unlucky enough to suffer a fractured knee cap? If you have, you likely want to do all you can to make sure that you recover as quickly, and as fully as possible.

One of the ways to ensure a rapid and full recovery is to use private medical care to receive better treatment than the NHS offers. Yet this can be expensive. However, we have some good news. You may be able to claim some free private medical care in your area.

This could be something as simple as some better medical supplies, for example, a high-quality knee brace. It might be something less tangible, such as a free expert orthopaedic assessment of your fractured knee broken bone report. Alternatively, it may be some kind of private medical care such as free private physiotherapy sessions which will help you recover from your broken knee cap much more quickly.

If you would like to find out if any of these free private medical care offers are available in your area, then all you have to do is pick up the phone and give us a quick call. Once we have your postcode, it will take us just a minute or tow to find out if you are eligible for free private medical care in your area.