Question: I fractured my right patella due to a fall off my bike. It’s cracked, but not displaced. I should of had surgery, but I didn’t have insurance and kept it straight in a cast for 2 weeks before seeing a specialist. It’s been a little over a month and I literally can’t bend it, physically it won’t bend. Just wondering if I’ll need a cane to walk with for the rest of my life or surgery to fix it?
Dr. Foreman: First of all, it is very likely that this fracture can be treated without surgery — with the knee extended (straightened) — it is quite possible that the fracture would be satisfactorily aligned. It can be maintained in a straightened position, either with a cast or a brace. However, it needs to stay straight for at least a month before you start trying to get any motion in the knee in order to allow healing of the bone. It is far too early for you to be worried about getting all the motion back in your knee, and in fact, trying to get a lot of your flexion (bend) back too early can slow down the healing of the fracture. Once it is safe to start working on motion and then finally strengthening, you may need the help of a physical therapist. You said you have seen a specialist; has he/she gotten new x-rays of the knee to look at the alignment and assess healing? Does he/she know about you trying to bend your knee so much so early? For your fracture to heal and for you to get your motion and strength back is a minimum 3 month deal, so you’re going to need to be a patient. Thanks for the question.
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