Knee fractures involve one of the bones that form the knee joint breaking. These can happen due to a fall while landing on the knee, motor vehicle accident, sports collision, among other things. Knee fractures can even happen in the elderly from small falls due to low bone density. Fractures are serious, but they can heal faster than a ligament or tendon injury around the knee.
One of the issues with knee fractures is they are not always so obvious, such as a hairline fracture. A rule that many Physical Therapists follow to decide if they want to rule out a fracture are the Ottawa Knee Rules.
What are signs of a fractured bone in my knee?
These rules state that X-rays are needed if any of the following are present:
- Age over 55 years old
- Isolated tenderness ONLY at the patella or kneecap
- Tenderness at the head of the fibula
- Unable to bend the knee to 90 degrees
- Unable to bear weight immediately and in the emergency department for 4 steps
If I have a fractured bone in my knee, will I need surgery?
Fractures can happen in many different shapes and sizes. Most fractures are treated with some time of immobilization to reduce stress the injured area. If the fracture is more complicated, they may need to be stabilized with a rod or pin by an orthopedic surgeon to make sure it heals correctly.
Additional things to consider:
When the fracture is healing it may seem like you can’t do much, but it is important to keep a healthy diet. Growing back bone takes more calories and nutrients than most people think. Make sure you are taking the appropriate amount of calories, calcium and vitamin D.
This is NOT the time for you to go on a diet.
Putting weight back on the limb when cleared
If the surgeon allows some partial weight bearing, take advantage of this and practice placing weight through your leg. This stimulates the bone to grow back faster!
Can physical therapy help me with a fractured bone in my knee?
Yes, but in a different way than you may think. Physical therapist can help reduce pain that occurs from muscles surrounding the bone while allowing the bone to heal. We can also teach you how to strengthen your leg without irritating the fracture.
Make sure to reach out to a good Physical Therapist to guide you through this process!