Patella Fracture

(Broken Kneecap; Fracture, Patella; Kneecap Fracture; Patellar Fracture)

Definition

A patella fracture occurs when there is a break in the patella, better known as the kneecap. The patella is a large, movable bone at the front of the knee.
The Kneecap
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Causes

Some common causes of this injury include:
  • Sharp blow to the knee
  • Excessive stress on the knee

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of a patella fracture include:
  • Increased age
  • Postmenopause
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Decreased bone mass— osteoporosis
  • Participation in contact sports such as football and soccer
  • Obesity , which places strain on muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments
  • Violence, such as car or car-pedestrian accidents

Symptoms

Patella fracture may cause:
  • Sudden, excruciating pain in the kneecap
  • Swelling, bruising, and tenderness
  • Inability to extend the knee
  • Difficulty walking

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look closely at the knee to see if there are signs of fracture . A straight leg test may be done. Images can evaluate your knee and surrounding structures. These may include:

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