A patellar fracture is a break or crack in the kneecap (patella) and is usually the result of a hard blow to the front of the knee. Patellar fractures can range from minor to severe; there may be a small crack in the bone or the kneecap may break into pieces or shatter.

Patellar fractures are usually the result of a fall onto the knee or trauma from a car accident or other direct blow. They can also happen while jumping or running.

The symptoms of a patellar fracture include:

  • A snapping or popping sound at the time of the injury
  • Severe pain in the knee
  • Swelling, bruising, or tenderness immediately after the injury
  • Difficulty walking or straightening the leg
  • Difficulty putting weight on the leg

A knee specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will examine you and ask about your symptoms and how the injury happened. Recommended tests may include X-rays or other scans.

Treatment of patellar fractures depends on the type of fracture. If there is an open wound, you may need treatment to control bleeding or prevent infection. In addition to pain medication, your physician may recommend immobilizing the knee with a brace or splint while it heals.

More severe patellar fractures where the kneecap is shattered or broken into small fragments, or the surrounding tendons and ligaments are injured, may require surgery to realign and stabilize the injury.