Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Fractures of the Knee

Fractures of the knee can involve various structures, including the kneecap (patella), the distal femur (lower end of the thigh bone), and the proximal tibia (upper end of the shinbone). These fractures can range from minor cracks to severe breaks that may require surgical intervention. Here’s an overview of different types of knee fractures and their management:

Patellar Fracture:

  • Description: Fracture of the kneecap (patella), which can range from a hairline crack to a complete break.
  • Causes: Direct trauma, such as a fall onto the knee or a forceful blow.
  • Treatment: Non-displaced fractures: Often treated with immobilization using a brace or cast, followed by physical therapy. Displaced fractures: May require surgical fixation with screws, wires, or plates to realign the fragments.

Distal Femur Fracture:

  • Description: Fracture of the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), just above the knee joint.
  • Causes: High-energy trauma, such as car accidents or falls from height, or osteoporosis-related fractures in older adults.
  • Treatment: Non-displaced fractures: Managed with casting or bracing, followed by gradual weight-bearing as healing allows. Displaced fractures: Often require surgical fixation with screws, plates, or intramedullary nails to stabilize the bone fragments.

Proximal Tibia Fracture:

  • Description: Fracture of the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), just below the knee joint.
  • Causes: Direct trauma, twisting injuries, or stress fractures.
  • Treatment: Non-displaced fractures: Can be managed with casting or bracing, followed by physical therapy. Displaced fractures: May require surgery to realign the bones and stabilize them with plates, screws, or external fixators.

Common Symptoms

  • Pain: Sudden, severe pain at the time of injury.
  • Swelling: Rapid swelling around the knee joint.
  • Bruising: Discoloration due to bleeding into the tissues around the fracture site.
  • Inability to Bear Weight: Difficulty or inability to put weight on the affected leg.
  • Deformity: Visible deformity or abnormal alignment of the knee joint.


  • Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms, range of motion, and stability of the knee joint.
  • Imaging: X-rays are typically used to confirm the presence of a fracture and evaluate its extent. CT scans or MRI may be needed for more detailed assessment in complex fractures.

Non-Surgical Treatment

For stable, non-displaced fractures, immobilization with a brace or cast followed by physical therapy to regain strength and mobility.

Surgical Treatments

Displaced fractures or fractures that involve joint surfaces often require surgery to realign the bones and stabilize them with internal fixation devices (screws, plates, rods) or external fixators.


  • Physical Therapy: Initiated early in the recovery process to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Gradual Weight-Bearing: Depending on the fracture type and stability, weight-bearing may be gradually increased as healing progresses.
  • Follow-Up Care: Regular monitoring by a healthcare provider to assess healing and manage any complications.


  • Delayed Healing: Factors such as age, overall health, and the severity of the fracture can affect healing time.
  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Increased risk of joint degeneration in the long term, especially with fractures involving the joint surface.
  • Infection: Possible risk with any surgical procedure, necessitating vigilant wound care and monitoring.


Fractures of the knee vary widely in severity and treatment approach. Early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and rehabilitation are crucial for optimal recovery and to minimize long-term complications. Consultation with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee injuries is essential for personalized evaluation and management.


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