Key Points about Knee Fractures

  • A knee fracture is a crack or break in one or several of the knee joint’s bones.
  • Symptoms of a knee fracture include intense pain, swelling and bruising of the knee following an accident or trauma to the knee.
  • Knee fractures are treated with surgery, which aims to remove broken bone fragments and put the bones back together to promote healing.
  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of a knee fracture following an accident.
Common related conditions
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Overview

A knee fracture occurs when there is a crack or break in one or several of the knee joint’s bones. This fracture is generally caused by direct trauma to the knee, such as during a fall or other accident.

Directly following a trauma to the knee, people with a knee fracture may experience intense pain, swelling and bruising in the area, in addition to muscle spasms, a deformed knee shape, and trouble bending or putting weight on the knee.

Call your doctor if you have extreme pain or any symptoms of a knee fracture following an accident.

Knee fracture causes

Knee fractures result from trauma to the knee, such as from falling, or from trauma that occurs during a car crash or contact sport.

Knee fracture risk factors

While knee fractures can occur in anyone who has endured direct trauma to the kneecap, these fractures occur most often in people between ages 20 and 50.

Knee fracture symptoms

If you have a knee fracture, you may experience the following symptoms, directly after the accident or injury has occurred:

  • Intense pain in the knee, and in the surrounding area, particularly while bending the knee, putting weight on the injured leg, or touching the affected area
  • Bruising, swelling, or tenderness in the knee
  • A sensation of bones grating against each other, when bending the knee
  • Muscle spasms around the knee
  • A deformed or altered knee shape

Knee fracture diagnosis

When diagnosing a fractured kneecap, your doctor will review your symptoms, and ask about the event that caused your injury.

Your doctor may also order an X-ray to visualize any damage to the kneecap.

Knee fracture treatment

To treat a knee fracture, your doctor may recommend one of several types of surgery, depending on the severity and type of your fracture. During surgery, your doctor may remove broken bone fragments, remove parts of the kneecap, or use screws, pins or wires to help broken bones heal back together.

When to seek care

Call your doctor if you have acute pain in the knee following an accident or trauma to the area.

Next Steps

While knee fractures often result from accidents that are hard to predict and prevent, the following measures can lower your risk of general injuries:

  • Wear supportive, properly fitting shoes and sports equipment
  • Stretch and warm up before exercising
  • Practice general safety while working and playing