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Patella Fractures

What is a patella fracture?

A patella fracture is a break in the patella, commonly known as the kneecap. The patella is a small, flat bone located at the front of the knee joint, essential for knee movement and stability. Fractures of the patella can vary in severity, ranging from hairline cracks to complete breaks, and can significantly impact mobility and function.

What are the causes of patella fractures?

Patella fractures typically occur due to direct trauma to the knee, such as a fall onto a hard surface or a direct blow to the kneecap during a sporting activity. Motor vehicle accidents and high-impact collisions can also lead to patella fractures. Additionally, underlying conditions such as osteoporosis or weakening of the bone structure may increase the risk of fractures even with minimal trauma.

What are the symptoms of patella fractures?

The symptoms of patella fractures can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:

  1. Severe pain and tenderness in the front of the knee.
  2. Swelling and bruising around the kneecap.
  3. Inability to straighten or bear weight on the affected leg.
  4. Visible deformity or abnormal positioning of the patella.
  5. Audible popping or cracking sound at the time of injury.

How are patella fractures diagnosed?

Dr. Shane J. Nho diagnoses patella fractures through a comprehensive evaluation, including a combination of medical history assessment, physical examination, and imaging studies. Proper diagnosis is crucial for determining the underlying cause of knee pain and guiding appropriate treatment strategies to alleviate symptoms and improve joint function. Diagnostic tools may include:

Medical History

Reviewing the circumstances of the injury and any previous knee problems or conditions.

Physical Examination

A thorough examination of the knee joint to assess for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.

Imaging Studies

Utilizing imaging modalities such as X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound to visualize the knee joint and rule out other underlying conditions.

  • X-rays: X-rays provide detailed images of the patella and surrounding structures, helping to confirm the presence of a fracture and determine its severity.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: CT scans may be used to provide more detailed images of complex fractures or assess for associated injuries to the knee joint.
At a Glance

Dr. Shane Nho

  • Board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon
  • Team Physician for Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Steel
  • Performs more than 700 procedures each year
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