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Patella (knee cap) fracture

Patient information A-Z

What is a fractured patella?

You have broken your knee cap (patella).This bone sits in front of the knee and covers the knee joint. The patella helps to protect the joint as well as provide strength and stability.

The most common causes of a patella fracture are falls directly onto the knee or a sudden, direct blow to the front of the knee. A sudden contraction of the strong muscles in your thigh can also cause the bone to crack, preventing the knee from straightening.

Patella fracture
Patella fracture

Swelling and bruising at the fracture site is normal. Simple, over the counter pain killers and applying ice to the area will help to reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied, wrapped in a tea towel, for 20

minutes three to four times a day.

You may have been given a brace to wear whilst your fracture heals. You will also have been given exercises to do.

You should:

  • Wear the brace as directed, if you have been given one.
  • Try to walk as you normally do to help the healing process and prevent muscles from weakening.
  • Start your exercises as soon as you are able.

You should not:

  • Take part in any physical contact sports for 8-12 weeks as guided by your consultant.
  • Miss your appointment with the knee specialist if this has been requested for you.
  • Miss any physiotherapy appointments if these have been requested for you.

Please remember:

Please contact your GP if your condition is not improving, or if your pain relief is not adequate.

If your condition is worsening please contact the Multi professional fracture clinic - call 01223 348299 or call 01223 257095.

For more information please visit please visit Fracture Info (opens in a new tab)

For any concerns on wounds email the fracture information team.

Please include your hospital number and any photos of your wounds that you would like to be reviewed.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151