Patella Fracture

Footballers' bones and joints, especially in the knee, hips and ankles, are at risk from becoming damaged during rough tackles and bad falls.

What Causes a Patella Fracture?

The patella or kneecap covers and protects the knee joint. It works in conjunction with the femur (thighbone) and quadriceps (thigh muscles) to bend and straighten the leg. A fracture can occur when the knee is struck heavily and can also sometimes be caused when the quadriceps are contracted far too forcefully. Fractures of the patella vary in severity, from a single crack to a stellate fracture, where the kneecap is cracked in several places. The knees are under constant stress when playing football and are very vulnerable to being accidentally kicked by opponents during a tackle. If players sustain this injury there will be a lot of pain and swelling and it will be very difficult to bend the knee. If the patella is cracked all the way across, players may feel a gap in the kneecap.

Prevention of Patella Fractures

Fractures can happen very suddenly as the result of a heavy blow and be very difficult for players to protect themselves against. It is a good idea to wear protective padding on the knees to cushion the impact of heavy blows.

Treatment for Patella Fractures

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the fracture. If you suspect you have a fractured patella, you should go to hospital straight away. An X ray will be taken to confirm the fracture. If the fracture is quite small, having the knee placed in plaster for 6 weeks may be sufficient to heal the crack. If the fracture is slightly worse and is cracked in several places, surgery is a must. The surgeon will put taught wires into the knee to help to repair and reform the patella. In very serious cases, the kneecap may have to be removed, which will be followed by the knee being put in plaster for 6 weeks.

Physiotherapy for Patella Fractures

Depending on how well the fracture is healing, you may be able to start using a knee brace after only 2-3 weeks of the knee being in plaster. A knee brace allows you to do exercises that will get the knee moving normally again and restore its strength. The physiotherapy may include sessions in a running pool and buoyancy exercises. Performing exercises in water is an excellent may of gently working the damaged patella and maintaining your fitness level while the bone is healing. 

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