A broken kneecap occurs when the small round bone (patella) that sits over the front of your knee joint breaks.
Sometimes when a kneecap break occurs, the patellar or quadriceps tendon can also tear. The patella and quadriceps tendon connects the big muscle in the front of your thigh to your knee joint.
If you do not need surgery:
Your health care provider will also treat any skin wounds you may have from your knee injury.
If you have a severe fracture, or if your tendon is torn, you may need surgery to repair or replace your kneecap.
Sit with your knee raised at least 4 times a day. This will help reduce swelling.
Ice your knee. Make an ice pack by putting ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrapping a cloth around it.
Pain medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, and others) may help ease pain and swelling.
If you have a removable splint, you will need to wear it at all times ,except for bathing or showering.
After your splint or cast is removed, you will begin:
You may be able to return to work:
Return to sports activities after your health care provider says it is okay. This usually takes a couple of months, if not half a year.
If you have a bandage on your knee, keep it clean. Change it if it gets dirty. Use soap and water to keep your wound clean when your health care provider says you can.
If you have stitches (sutures), they will be removed at around 2 weeks. Do not take baths, swim, or soak your knee in any way until your health care provider says it is okay.
You will need to see your health care provider every 2 - 3 weeks during your recovery. Your health care provider will check to see how your fracture is healing.
Call your health care provider if you have:
Patellar, tibial, and fibular fractures In: Eiff MP, Hatch R, eds. Eiff: Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 12.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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