Knee Fractures

Dr. Steven Louis treats knee fractures, including Supracondylar Femur Fractures, Patella Fractures, and Tibial Plateau Fractures.

Symptoms 

A knee fracture typically causes pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling and some deformity of the knee joint.   You may experience tenderness of the knee bone (patella, femur or tibia) and inability to move the knee area.  You will experience some weakness of the leg area around the injury and possible leg numbness below the knee area.

Diagnosis 

These injuries can occur due to a traumatic incident or a fall. Dr. Louis will perform a thorough examination to evaluate and determine the extent of your knee injuries and conduct a complete review of your medical history.

He may also utilized diagnostic tools such as an MRI, X-ray or CT scan to confirm the extent of your condition.

Fractures involving the knee can be subcategorized in more specific terminology. These include: Supracondylar Femur Fractures, Patella Fractures, and Tibial Plateau Fractures.

Supracondylar Femur Fracture

A supracondylar femur fracture is an unusual injury to the femur just above the knee joint. These fractures often involve the cartilage surface of the knee joint. Patients who sustain a supracondylar femur fracture are often at high risk of developing knee arthritis later in life.  Supracondylar femur fractures are more common in patients with severe osteoporosis and in patients who have previously undergone total knee replacement surgery. In these groups of patients, the bone just above the knee joint may be weaker than in normal patients, and therefore more prone to fracture.

Treatment

Treatment for Supracondylar Femur Fractures often involves surgery with a plate and screws to hold the fracture fragments in proper alignment while the bone heals.  After surgery, patients will typically not be allowed to bear weight on the affected leg for approximately six to eight weeks.

Patella Fracture

Image of a fractured patellaThe patella is a bone that makes up the kneecap. It is located in front of the knee joint (where the thighbone and shinbone meet). It allows people to extend their knee and is crucial in leg movement. Patella fractures are most common in people between 20 and 50 years old. The fracture usually results from a fall onto the kneecap. It can also occur when the quadriceps muscle is contracting but the knee joint is bending. Pain, swelling, bruising, immobility, and inability to straighten the knee are symptoms of a patella fracture.

Treatment

After taking an x-ray of the knee, Dr. Louis typically performs a straight leg raise on his patients with this condition. The patient lies flat on a bed. With the leg straight, the patient then raises the foot and holds it in the air. If this can be done, then non-operative treatment may be possible. This treatment usually entails a long leg cast or a knee immobilizer.

For those patients who need surgery, Dr. Louis typically makes an incision on the front of the knee joint to repair the fractured ends using wires, screws and pins. The knee must usually be in a brace for several weeks. The patient can begin to move the knee about two weeks after the surgery, depending on the strength that the surgeon was able to restore in the knee during the procedure.

Tibial Plateau Fracture

The tibial plateau is located at the top of the shin bone, below the knee joint. Tibial plateau fractures often result from motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and inability to bear weight on the side of the injured knee.

There are two types of tibial plateau fractures: displaced and non-displaced. A non-displaced fracture occurs when there is a crack in the bone, yet all the bones remain in place. A displaced fracture leaves the bone broken into two or more pieces and is more severe.

Treatment

Non-displaced fractures can be treated without surgery, as long as the patient doesn’t put much pressure on the leg for a period of several months. A displaced fracture requires surgery in order to stabilize the knee joint and line up the bones beneath it. A surgeon will usually use plates and screws to restore stability within the leg.