30 Mar Recapping the Kneecap
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Common kneecap injuries, what is it, how are they caused, what are the symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
The knee joint is one of the largest and complexed joints in the human body. It connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone), allowing the knee to bend and support the weight of the body, thus enabling movement (Sendic,2021). Patella is the scientific name for the kneecap. This is the small bone located at the front of the knee and protects the knee by acting as a shield (Orthoinfo, 2017). The complexity of the knee makes it vulnerable to injury. Luckily, many injuries can sometimes be treated non-surgically.
- Kneecap Fractures:
Or a Patellar Fracture is a crack or break in the patella. The fracture is caused by direct trauma to the bone and can either be a clean break or the bone can break into many pieces. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising and being unable to walk or place your full body weight on the knee, difficulty straightening or extending the leg (Orthoinfo, 2017). Non-surgical treatment includes using a brace and cast, electronic bone simulation, physical therapy, and supervised administration of pain meds, however extreme cases will require surgery. Patellar fractures are usually the result of an accidental injury and cannot be prevented. If you have any underlying conditions like osteoporosis (a condition that weakens the bones), it may lead to an increased risk of fractured kneecaps, therefore managing osteoporosis may prevent patellar fractures (InterMountain,2018).
- Dislocated Kneecaps:
It is a common injury that takes about one and a half months to heal. The patella normally glides over a groove on the knee joint, when bending or straightening the leg. When the kneecap is dislocated, it comes out of the groove and the supporting tissues are either stretched or torn. Dislocated Kneecaps are caused by direct trauma to the knee or a sudden change of direction whilst the leg is firmly on the ground. Symptoms of dislocation include a popping sensation, the knee looking odd and out of place, severe pain and swelling, being unable to straighten the knee or walk, stiffness, tenderness, and the knee buckling. Treatments generally involve surgery to replace/reposition the kneecap back into place and recommending physiotherapy (NHS,2019). Kneecap dislocations can be prevented by strengthening the quadriceps muscle (the thigh muscle) as it keeps the kneecap in place, improving technique of exercises and maintaining proper mobility of the hip and iliotibial band (Envisionsport, 2017).
- Patellar Tendon Tear:
The patellar tendon attaches the kneecap to the tibia and cooperates with the quadriceps muscle to straighten the leg. Small tears to the tendon will make it difficult to complete daily activities. The tear can either be a partial or complete tear. When the tendon is completely torn it is separated from the kneecap, preventing the knee from straightening. This injury is caused by direct force, usually falling on the front of knee or from jumping up and down, however tendon weakness may also result in tears. Common symptoms include a tearing or popping sensation, pain, swelling and being unable to straighten the knee, and may also include an indentation at the kneecap where the tendon tore, bruising, tenderness, cramping, difficulty walking, and the kneecap may move into the thigh as it is no longer secured to the tibia (Orthoinfo, 2016). Very Small tears can be treated non-surgically by immobilisation and physical therapy, whereas surgery is needed to reattach the tendon. Not all injuries can be prevented, if one suffers from weak tendons, it is best to follow medical advice on exercise, diets, and medication (Intermountain, 2018). This advice will include physical therapy, exercise, and rehabilitation to help strengthen the weak tendons.
At Osteovision there are a team of osteopaths and physiotherapists to discuss you pain and help you to find the best route to recovery. Contact our Surbiton clinic today to book an assessment.