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Health Information Center

Patella Fracture

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Patella Fracture

(Broken Kneecap; Fracture, Patella; Kneecap Fracture; Patellar Fracture)


A patella fracture is a break through the large, movable bone at the front of the knee.
The Kneecap.

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The fracture may be caused by:

  • A blow to the knee
  • A fall onto the knee
  • Forced stress on the muscle that extends the knee

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Playing contact sports such as football and soccer
  • Having health problems that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis
  • Low muscle mass


Patella fracture may cause:

  • Knee pain and swelling
  • Problems moving the knee and walking


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to the knee.

Images will be taken of the knee. This can be done with:


Treatment will depend on how severe the injury is. It can take weeks to months to heal. Medicine will be needed to ease swelling and pain. Other options are:


Most fractures happen due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may help prevent injury. A healthful diet and regular exercise can help build healthy bones and muscles.

Without Surgery

A mild fracture may be treated with a cast to keep the knee from moving as it heals. A brace, cane, or crutches may be needed after the cast comes off. Exercises will also need to be done to promote strength and movement.





  • Jarraya, M., Diaz, L.E., et al. Imaging of patellar fractures. Insights Imaging, 2017; 8 (1): 49-57.
  • Patella fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/patella-fracture-emergency-management.
  • Patellar (kneecap) fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedics website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00523.


  • Nicole S. Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.