Kneecap > Treatments
Restrict Activities, Brace
If your fractured kneecap does
not require surgery, your physician will likely immobilize
your leg in a cylindrical long leg cast or, in rare
cases, a knee immobilizer for four to six weeks. This
will allow your fractured kneecap to heal. You may want
to follow the routine known as R.I.C.E., which stands
for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:
- your doctor will likely suggest that you take it easy
for several days, so it may be wise to clear your schedule
of strenuous, unnecessary activities.
- initially, your doctor may recommend applying ice
packs to the knee for about 20 minutes every three or
four hours. You will probably need to do this for up
to two or three weeks to help decrease pain and swelling.
- your cast or a compressive dressing will help to compress
the knee and decrease swelling.
- elevating your knee will also help reduce swelling
by dispersing excess fluid away from the injured area.
Braces are almost never used for the acute management
of kneecap (patella) fractures that can be treated non-operatively.
Most orthopedists will place their patients in a cylindrical
long leg extension cast or, if skin checks are necessary
and the patient is compliant, a knee immobilizer. After
a four to six week period, the patient may be placed
in a hinged brace to allow some restricted knee flexion
Once the pain and swelling associated
with a fractured kneecap have subsided, your physician
may recommend physical therapy to help you move about
with the aid of crutches, a walker, or other assistive
device to maintain and improve your overall conditioning.
Though everyone's rehabilitation program is slightly
different, rehabilitation for a fractured kneecap after
cast removal or discontinuance of a knee immobilizer
follows a general pattern. The rehabilitation focuses
on strengthening the muscles around your knee and increasing
the range of motion of the knee. Rehabilitation can
begin about four to six weeks after the injury was treated.
Range of motion is extremely important. Movement may
be painful at first, but it is important to not allow
the knee to stiffen. Rehab then progresses to resistive
exercises - those involving weights - to keep the muscles
around your knee strong. You should eventually be able
to resume functional activities like stair climbing,
single leg support, swimming, and driving. You will
be able to begin more vigorous activities as your kneecap
heals and your leg gets stronger.
strengthening exercises: Kneecap (patella) injuries
Once your fractured kneecap has healed,
building muscle strength around your knee can help you
avoid further injury. Contact sports and activities
increase your chances of re-injuring your kneecap. A
kneepad can cushion the blow when playing contact sports.
Another way to help prevent further knee injuries is
to learn knee-sparing exercise techniques.
Living - the average person takes between 12,000 and
15,000 steps a day. Each step exerts a force between
two and five times your body weight on your knees. After
a knee injury, take it easy on your knees during the
day whenever possible to save them for activities and
exercise. Avoid stairs when there is an elevator, take
the shortest path when walking, and consider wearing
athletic shoes designed to absorb shock.
Strengthening/Conditioning - activities themselves are
not a substitute for conditioning. It is essential to
adhere to the muscle strengthening program you learned
in rehab throughout the remainder of your life. The
best strengthening programs are low-impact and non-weight-bearing,
like stationary bikes and certain weightlifting programs,
so that the knees do not have to absorb shock.
- your sport or activity of choice helps maintain mental
and physical well-being, but it is not a conditioning
program. Sports that require twisting and quick direction
changes put great strain on your knee.