Types And Causes Of A Kneecap Fracture (Patella Fracture)

A kneecap fracture or patella fracture is painful and requires immediate treatment by an orthopedic surgeon. We will discuss the different types and causes of patella fractures.

Kneecap Fracture

A fracture or break in the kneecap – a small bone that covers the knee joint and protects it. Depending on the injury, there can be a single crack or multiple cracks that can break the kneecap into smaller pieces.

Types Of Patella Fractures

Stable Patella Fracture

In a stable patella fracture, also labeled nondisplaced fracture, the broken pieces of the kneecap stay in their place. There may be something keeping the pieces of the kneecap connected and if not, there will still be very close to each other with a difference of one or two millimeters only.

Stable kneecap fractures can be healed without surgery because the broken pieces of the kneecap are still in their place. Once your doctor decides that this can be healed without surgery, your knee will be immobilized using a knee immobilizer, a cast, or a brace.

Displaced Patella Fracture

As the name suggests, the broken pieces of the kneecap don’t stay in their correct position in this displaced patella fracture. The pieces will be lined together with a surgical procedure because it will be the only option for the patient to heal and recover from this type of kneecap fracture.

Transverse Patella Fracture

What happens in this type is that the kneecap breaks into only two pieces. It’s usually split in half. Transverse kneecap fractures are only fixed with surgery. However, the type of surgery required for the procedure is decided by the surgeon based on the patient and the exact position of the fracture.

Comminuted Patella Fracture

When the kneecap bone is broken into three or more pieces, it’s termed as comminuted patella fracture. The position of the kneecap pieces may be in the correct place or displaced. There can be a fracture where some pieces of the kneecap are too small to be joined back. They are removed with surgery and the rest of the kneecap is reconnected.

Open Patella Fracture

This is the open fracture variant of kneecap fracture. The skin that covers the kneecap breaks with the fracture. It can be the pieces of the kneecap breaking the skin or something from the outside penetrating the skin resulting in an open fracture.

Open patella fracture is the most severe type of kneecap fracture and it should be treated immediately by a surgeon. The surgeon will give the patient antibiotics and carry out the right surgical procedure for fixing the fracture. Immediate action is required because open fractures increase the risk of infections in the wound.

Causes Of Kneecap Fractures

Kneecap fractures are not common and they make up for only 1% of all fractures. The primary reason is that kneecap is usually a shield for the knee joint and works well most of the time and a fracture usually happens when there is a direct impact on the kneecap. Common causes of a direct impact on the knee can be a fall, road accident, or sports injury.

Symptoms Of A Kneecap Fracture

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inability to straighten the leg
  • Inability to raise the extended leg
  • Inability to walk
  • A visible change in the shape of the kneecap

Can You Walk If Your Kneecap Is Fractured?

In most cases, patients can’t walk with a fractured kneecap. However, if you have a patella fracture, but you’re sure you can walk, you should still avoid walking because it can worsen the fracture.

After the diagnosis and treatment, a cast, brace, or immobilizer will be on your knee and leg. Your surgeon will suggest you the movements when to use weights, and how much you can bend your knee. Keep in mind that you won’t be allowed to bend your knee after the surgery. So, follow the advice of your healthcare provider for a speedy recovery.


A patella fracture is painful and can leave you unable to walk. You will most probably go through surgery and will have to avoid walking for some time. Get in touch with a knee injury doctor Woodbridge quickly if you feel that you have knee pain.

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