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Dealing with a Broken Kneecap

A while back, I suffered a serious knee injury that resulted in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

The X-Ray of My Fractured Knee

The X-Ray of My Fractured Knee

My Patella Fracture Journey

Back in November 2011, I fell down a step and landed on my kneecap, shattering it into four pieces.

I had surgery to pin it back together and my leg was immobilized in a splint for six weeks.

The patella fracture healed, but the fun was just beginning. My knee joint was completely stuck due to scar tissue and severe muscle atrophy.

Since then, I've had more surgery to remove the hardware you can see in the photograph above.

This article is about the information I've discovered about patella fractures and what helps to rehabilitate this injury once it's fixed.

This is my leg right after my operation to get my pins removed. I was still at the hospital, waiting to be discharged.

This is my leg right after my operation to get my pins removed. I was still at the hospital, waiting to be discharged.

Everyone Is Different

From reading other people's experiences from the comments on this article and on the KneeGeeks Forum, it is clear to me that there is no definitive way to deal with a broken kneecap.

What works for some people does not necessarily work for others. It is important to remember that although we are all in the same boat with having a fractured patella, we are quite unique in our rehabilitation and ways to deal with it.

Treatment variations depend on individual factors such as age and general fitness, but more particularly, it depends on the locality and the methods applied by the medical staff responsible for your treatment.

It is important to remember when reading the experiences and advice shared on this page that your own situation may be different because of the above reasons.

Always check with your doctor before trying out new rehabilitation methods, as there may be a medical reason why it has not been suggested to you already.

Most importantly, don't worry or get disheartened if you read here that someone else has recovered from their patella fracture more quickly than you appear to be doing.

Different personal and medical factors mean that everyone will progress at different rates. Generally, the ways and means of getting to a particular place in your rehab will differ, but the overall timescale of your full recovery will be pretty much the same.

Keep working hard and you WILL get there!

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Read More From Patientslounge

Types of Patellar Fractures


Kneecap fractures come in many shapes and sizes! They range from a single crack to a break into several separated pieces. If the bone is cracked but the pieces stay in place, the treatment involves immobilizing the leg for about six weeks until the fracture is healed.

If the pieces are separated (displaced) then surgery is usually required to hold them together while it all heals back into place. My fracture was a comminuted displaced fracture . . . the one I would probably have not chosen if I could have picked. It means that my bone broke into several pieces and did not stay in place. You can see the arrangement of pins and wires used to fix my fracture in the X-ray at the start of this article.

So You Fractured Your Patella Too?

Patella fractures only make up about 1% of all bone breakages overall. I am curious to know which type of patella fracture are most common when they do occur. Check the names on the diagram above and select the relevant option below. Thank you for taking part in this poll.

Patellar Fractures - Some Useful Information

A YouTube video discussing types of patella fractures and their treatment.

My Knee Immobilizers: A Cast and a Splint

Following surgery, my leg was put in a "cylinder cast" for the first two weeks. After that, when my staples were removed, I was put in a velcro splint for another four weeks.

I've read that some patients are put in a hinge brace at two weeks which allows some movement of the knee joint to commence. I wonder if I'd had one of those maybe my knee would not have been stuck straight when the six weeks was up. I imagine early movement would have been painful, but worth it if it meant gaining a decent range of motion in a more reasonable time frame later.