Acute Patellar Injury

Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A direct and forceful blow to the knee or falling heavily onto the knee results in an acute patellar injury. Fracture of the patella or the kneecap may also occur.

Acute Patellar Injury

What is Acute Patellar Injury?

An acute patellar injury is caused due to a direct and forceful blow to the knee or falling heavily onto the knee such as in football, hockey or blow from other hard objects. Such type of injuries may also cause fracture of the patella, dislocation of the patella and damage to the cartilage under the patella (CMP).
X-rays can confirm fracture of the patella. If there is no fracture then conservative treatment for the injury such as rest, cold therapy and use of NSAID's (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) helps. Other measures which help in healing are applying cold therapy, taping the patella and avoiding activities which put pressure on the patella such as squatting or walking downstairs.

What is Acute Patellar Injury?

Causes for Acute Patellar Injury

  • A direct forceful injury to the knee.
  • Falling on to the knee.

Symptoms of Acute Patellar Injury

  • Patellar fracture causes a great deal of pain and swelling.
  • Difficulty and pain upon flexing the knee.
  • If the kneecap has fractured or broken completely, the patient may feel a gap in the kneecap.

Symptoms of Acute Patellar Injury

Treatment for Acute Patellar Injury

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) principle should be applied.
  • Medical attention should be sought.
  • Anti-inflammatories may be given for pain and inflammation.
  • Cold therapy and knee braces or supports can be used.
  • Fracture of the patella should be diagnosed accurately as bipartite patella has a natural split in it and can be mistaken for a fracture.
  • Incomplete fractures require application of splint while keeping the leg straight. As the fracture heals, the extent of the flexion in the leg should be increased.
  • Complete or almost complete fractures require surgery and fixation of the patella. In some cases, quadriceps muscles may also require surgical repair.
  • Rehabilitation should be followed after surgical repair and complete healing.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 12, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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