A fractured patella is a broken kneecap (the flat, round bone that protects the knee joint).
Patella fractures usually are the result of a hard blow to the kneecap, most commonly during sports, rough play, or auto collisions.
Doctors treat patella fractures at first with a splint or knee immobilizer (brace). These are like a cast and give support to the knee, but are soft part of the way around the leg to allow room for swelling. After a few days, when the swelling goes down, the splint may be changed to a full cast. The cast is usually removed after 4-6 weeks. Some fractures that do not heal well on their own may require surgery to bring the broken pieces of bone together.
A fractured patella can be painful. In most cases, the person will wear a splint and then a cast for several weeks. Proper care can help decrease the pain while the injury is healing.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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