Surgical treatments for a fractured kneecap include open reduction and internal fixation surgery and full or partial patellectomy, according to Cedars-Sinai. Nonsurgical treatment may include wearing a splint or cast to keep the knee straight and allow the broken bones to heal properly, states OrthoInfo. Rehabilitation exercises help strengthen leg muscles and improve range of motion in the injured knee.
During open reduction and internal fixation surgery, a surgeon attaches broken bones in the kneecap using metal screws, wires or pins, explains Cedars-Sinai. Pieces of bone too small to fix are removed. After surgery, the knee is placed in a cast to prevent movement and ensure proper healing.
In a full or partial patellectomy, a surgeon removes all or part of the fractured kneecap, notes Cedars-Sinai. The surgery preserves the patellar tendon below the kneecap, the quadriceps tendon above the kneecap and soft tissue surrounding the knee.
Even with proper treatment, kneecap fractures may result in chronic knee pain, loss of motion in the knee and permanent weakening of the quadriceps, according to OrthoInfo. Doctors may suggest avoiding repetitive bending at the knee, climbing stairs and climbing ladders.
Symptoms of a fractured kneecap include severe pain in the knee, swelling, difficulty extending the knee and pain when moving the knee, states Cedars-Sinai. Additionally, the knee sometimes develops a deformed appearance. Most fractured kneecaps occur due to a direct blow to the knee.