Knee Fractures

Fractures (a break in the bone) around the knee typically occur following some type of trauma. This may be low energy (such as a fall from a standing height) or high energy (such as a motor vehicle accident). The most common type of fractures include patella fractures (the knee cap), proximal tibia fractures (the top portion of the lower leg bone), distal femur fracture (the bottom portion of the thigh bone), and fractures around a knee replacement.


  • Pain with weight bearing
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Deformity — the knee may look "out of place" and the leg may appear shorter and crooked


Some fractures can be treated conservatively, without surgery. Other fractures require surgical intervention with plates and screws, rods, or other hardware. The treatment is based on the location, stability, and type of fracture.


Depending on several factors — such as your age, general health, and the type of fracture you have — it may take a year or more for your fracture to heal completely. It may also take a year or so of rehabilitation before you are able to return to all everyday activities. Your doctor will decide when it is best to begin moving your knee in order to prevent stiffness. This depends on how well the soft tissues (skin and muscle) are recovering and how secure the fracture is after having been fixed. If your bone was fractured in many pieces or your bone is weak, it may take longer to heal, and it may be a longer time before your doctor recommends motion activities.