A fracture is a discontinuity or break in the bone caused due to external forces which are comparatively stronger in nature than the tissues that build the bone. Fractures may be simple or complex. In simple or closed fractures, there is not much destruction, bones remain within the body and do not penetrate the skin. In complex or compound fractures, also known as open fractures, the overlying skin ruptures and severe damage to bones, joints, ligaments and tendons occurs. These injuries are generally debilitating and require intensive treatment, surgery and rehabilitation. Injuries like these can be especially dangerous in children as their bones are still growing.
The knee is commonly fractured in automobile accidents and in other traumatic incidents.1 One or more bones around the knee may be fractured. The knee is most commonly injured in vehicular accidents, a fall from a scooter and during sports. A knee fracture is more dangerous as the broken bones involve a joint. If not properly treated, the knee may heal with time but may become stiff and deformed. Most fractures around the knee need to be properly attended to with surgery. Accurate repositioning of the fractured fragments and stable fixation of these fragments is important for achieving successful results. These fractures need to be opened by more than one incision behind the knee.
Complications may arise as arteries and nerves are located close to the bones. Patients may experience symptoms such as pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, restriction of movements, numbness below the knee area, and deformity in severe cases if left untreated surgically. If you think you have suffered a knee fracture, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hayden.
Knee fractures are diagnosed on the basis of medical examination, history and are confirmed on X-RAY, CT-SCAN, and MRI, if required. In complex knee fractures, there might be various levels involving the patella, femoral condyles, tibial tubercle and tibial spine. Patellar fractures which are not displaced are treated with a knee immobilizer and 6 weeks of complete rest. Displaced fractures require surgical intervention in which a metallic plate is inserted and screws are used to hold the fracture fragments in proper alignment while the fracture heals naturally. This procedure is known as open reduction and internal fixation. Partial or total patellectomy may be required in severe cases.
After surgery, the patient is not allowed to put weight on the affected leg for 6 to 8 weeks. Post surgical rehabilitation and physiotherapy are required for quick and complete recovery. Rehabilitation plays an important role in resuming a normal lifestyle.
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD