Knee fracture

Person with knee injury

​A fracture of the knee may include a broken kneecap (patella) or a break in the upper (femur) or lower (tibia) leg bones close to the knee joint. The fracture could be just a small crack or be in many pieces. Falls, car accidents and sports injuries are common causes of a knee fracture. 

Types of knee fractures are:

  • Comminuted—the kneecap is broken into several pieces. It becomes unstable and often needs surgery.

  • Displaced—the broken bone ends are misaligned. This condition usually requires a surgical procedure.

  • Open— the broken bone is exposed through the skin and there's a high risk of muscle, tendon and ligament damage.

  • Stable—the fractured bones are aligned and can heal without treatment

Knee fracture symptoms

The symptoms of a knee fracture are different for each person, but may include:

  • Bruising or redness around the knee 

  • Difficulty moving the joint or injured area

  • Intense pain

  • Numbness or weakness

  • Obvious deformity

  • Swelling

Knee fracture diagnosis

The experienced orthopedic specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network will ask you about your injury and examine your knee.

Tests you might need to diagnose a fracture of the knee may include:

  • Computed Tomography scan of your bones (CT scan)—an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the injured knee.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—uses magnets, radio waves and a computer to make detailed pictures of the knee to help your doctor make a diagnosis. 

  • X-ray— is a picture of your knee to see what kind of break you have. Sometimes an image may be taken of your other knee to use for comparison.

Knee fracture treatment

We emphasize noninvasive treatment to minimize the impact your knee fracture has on your daily life. Your treatment plan depends on your specific injury or condition, your age and general health.

Treatment options include:

  • Crutches or a wheelchair—assists with movement.

  • Limits on activity—restricts or minimizes movement.

  • Medication—for pain control.

  • Physical therapy [link to new Physical Therapy page]—rehabilitation helps restore strength and movement once the break heals. 

  • Cast, splint or brace—to immobilize the knee joint.

  • Surgery—may be done to put broken knee bones back together with metal plates, rods or screws.

Our nationally recognized physicians have experience treating fractures of the knee and help you return to an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Find a knee specialist near you.