The knee joint is one of the most complex joints of the body. The lower end of the thighbone (femur) meets the upper end of the shinbone (tibia) at the knee joint. A small bone called the patella (kneecap) rests on a groove on the front side of the femoral end. A bone of the lower leg (fibula) forms a joint with the shinbone.
To allow smooth and painless motion of the knee joint, articular surfaces of these bones are covered with a shiny white slippery articular cartilage. Two C-shaped cartilaginous menisci are present in between the femoral end and the tibial end.
Menisci act as shock absorbers providing cushion to the joints. Menisci also play an important role in providing stability and load- bearing to the knee joint.
Bands of tissue, including the cruciate and collateral ligaments, keep the different bones of the knee joint together and provide stabilization to the joint. Surrounding muscles are connected to the knee bones by tendons. The bones work together with the muscles and tendons to provide mobility to the knee joint. The whole knee joint is covered by a ligamentous capsule, which further stabilizes the joint. This ligamentous capsule is also lined with a synovial membrane that secretes synovial fluid for lubrication.
What is a Knee Fracture?
Knee fracture refers to the break in any of the bones of your knee joint.
Causes of Knee Fracture
The most common cause of knee fracture is a direct blow to the kneecap such as a fall or a motor vehicle accident. The knee can also be fractured indirectly, due to a sudden contraction of the thigh muscles.
Symptoms of Knee Fracture
Pain and swelling are the predominant symptoms of a knee fracture. A few patients may also experience inability to walk and difficulty in straightening the knee. Sometimes, bruising may also be seen around the fracture site.
Diagnosis of Knee Fracture
The diagnosis of knee fracture comprises of a physical examination, history of the injury and X-ray imaging to determine the nature and severity of your knee fracture. X-ray is the most common and widely used diagnostic tool for identification of knee fractures.
Treatment of Knee Fracture
The treatment of knee fracture depends upon the severity and nature of the fracture.
Non-surgical treatment can be used when the knee has not been fragmented or displaced. Casts or splints may be used to straighten the knee and help in the healing process. Immobilization of the affected limb for 6 to 8 weeks may also be recommended.
Surgical treatment is needed if there is displacement of fractured fragments of the bone or the distance between the fractured parts is too far and would fail to heal. Immediate surgery is recommended in case of open fracture where the fractured site is exposed through the skin. The type of procedure to be conducted depends on the nature of the fracture. Transverse fractures are fixed with the help of wires and pins and a "figure-of-eight" configuration tension band while in a comminuted fracture, the small bone fragments are removed from the knee joint.
Rehabilitation after Knee Fracture Treatment
Rehabilitation plays a vital role in helping patients resume their daily activities, after healing of the fracture. Treatment of the fracture may cause stiffness of the joint and weakness of the muscles. Physical therapy, joint mobilization and muscle strengthening exercises or weight-bearing exercises are helpful in regaining strength and preventing deformities.