Are you an athlete who participates in contact sports? If so, you may be at risk of a knee fracture. A knee fracture is a break or crack in one or more bones in the joint ranging from a small break to a complete shatter of the bone. Sports injuries, automobile accidents and falls are the most common causes of this knee injury. Knee fracture specialist, Dr. Nikhil Verma provides diagnosis and both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Chicago who have suffered a knee fracture. Contact Dr. Verma’s team today!
An Overview on Knee Fractures
There are numerous injuries and conditions responsible for knee pain, including a fractured knee. A knee fracture is a break or crack in one or more bones in the joint ranging from a small break to a complete shatter of the bone. Sports injuries, automobile accidents and falls are the most common causes of this knee injury. Dr. Nikhil Verma, knee specialist serving the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area, is highly experienced in treating knee fracture symptoms and returning patients to an active, pain-free lifestyle.
A fractured knee typically results from a traumatic event and varies for each type of fracture. Common knee fractures include:
- Patella fracture: These fractures account for about 1 percent of all fractures and are most common in patients aged 20-50 years. This injury is commonly caused by a direct hit to the patella (kneecap) in sports or by a direct fall on the patella.
- Tibial eminence fracture: These fractures are caused by a direct blow to the shinbone when the knee is flexed or during hyperextension of the knee. Younger patients experience this injury commonly from a high impact injury (sports injury), while older patients experience this injury commonly from a low impact injury (fall).
- Tibial tubercle fracture: These fractures are most common in athletes involved in jumping sports, such as basketball.
- Tibial plateau fracture: These fractures are common in elderly patients who suffer from osteoporosis, as well as patients exposed to an extreme blow during a fall from height or sports activity.
A knee fracture can cause various complications including osteoarthritis, compartment syndrome, neurovascular issues and more. An open fracture is a serious type of fracture characterized by an exposed bone through the skin. These fractures involve much more damage to the surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles. Recovery time is also greater in many cases.
Knee Fracture Symptoms
Common knee fracture symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising immediately following the accident
- Difficulty bending the knee
- Increased pain during movement
- Deformed shape in the knee or leg
- An exposed bone through the skin (open fracture)
Diagnosis of a Fractured Knee
Most fractures require an emergency room evaluation to determine the acuity of the injury and need for urgent treatment. Most patients are placed in a knee brace or splint. Ice and elevation to reduce swelling is recommended. During a subsequent outpatient evaluation, Dr. Verma will examine a patient’s knee after a thorough medical review and a discussion of the patient’s knee fracture symptoms. During the examination, he will determine the pain level, range of motion and any visible deformity. A series of X-rays will be performed to show the front and side view of the knee fracture. X-rays also help identify bipartite patella, a rare condition where a patient is born with extra bones in the patella that have not grown together.
Treatment of a Knee Fracture
Dr. Verma will recommend a treatment plan based on which knee fracture is present and the extent of injury.
If the fractured knee is still in line and the pieces of bone line up after the injury, commonly known as a stable fracture, a non-surgical approach may be prescribed. A cast or brace and crutches will be recommended to keep the leg and knee straight and to keep weight off the leg until the bone is completely healed. Physical therapy is used to regain motion and strength.
If the fractured knee is displaced, broken bones are separated and do not line up, surgery is recommended in most cases. The type of surgical procedure performed depends on the specific knee fracture and extent of injury to the bone and surrounding structures. Before surgery is decided, Dr. Verma will discuss the procedure, any potential complications and recovery time. Most fractures take 8-12 weeks to heal and an additional 12 weeks to regain motion and strength. Long term risk of fractures included development of subsequent arthritis.
If you would like more information on knee fracture treatment, contact the orthopedic office of Dr. Nikhil Verma, knee specialist treating patients living in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area.