The term fracture refers to a clinical condition in which one or more of the bones in your body suffers a fissure, crack, or break. Fractures will occur after the bone undergoes a violent or traumatic event such as a fall or collision. The younger population is susceptible to fractures from participating in high-impact sports or high-intensity activities. Over time and through the lack of a consistent healthy diet and regular activity, the bones can become more brittle and making older patients more prone to fractures.
Types of Knee Fractures
- Distal Femur Fracture – Distal Femur Fractures are quite common and account for approximately one-third of all femur fractures. The distal region of the femur refers to the part of the bone that is closest to the knee joint. There is a notably greater rate of incidence in younger adults due to higher participation in vigorous activities, which increases their susceptibility to trauma. About 10% of all Distal Femur fractures are of a compound (bone pierces through the skin) nature.
- Femoral shaft fracture – When the femur bone shatters or breaks anywhere along its length this is known as a Femoral Shaft Fracture. The femur is an incredibly strong bone and therefore highly resistant to fracture. However, when it does break, it can be quite serious.
- Fractures of Proximal Tibia – A fracture of the tibia refers to a break of the shin bone. These types of fracture are much less likely to involve the knee joint than femoral fractures. However, Proximal Tibia Fractures occur near the joint where the bone is softer. These fractures are known to cause secondary damage to the surrounding soft tissue such as muscles, vascular structures, tendons, and ligaments.
- Tibial Shaft Fractures – A fracture along the tibial shaft means that the shinbone broke along its larger, front bone, somewhere between the knee and ankle joints.
Diagnosing Knee Fractures
Physicians will diagnose various knee fractures through a combination of physical examinations and various diagnostic imaging techniques such as Xrays, CT, and MRI. Through anatomical knowledge and experience, your doctor can pinpoint the exact location and level of severity of the fracture more accurately. Depending on the diagnosis and other variables such as if the fracture is compound, meaning the broken bone has broken through the skin, treatment can include surgical and non-surgical options.
Knee Fracture Treatments
The non-surgical route typically involves bone traction in order to straighten and set the bone. Traction can be achieved using casts or braces. The surgical route typically involves one of two methods of fixation.
- Intramedullary Nailing – When an intramedullary nail is applied, a surgicalgrade metal rod is inserted into the medullary cavity of the broken bone. This technique is especially helpful in fractures of the long bones of the leg. The rod, which is secured with a set of pins and screws, also helps the healing bone by sharing the weight load, thus speeding up recovery times.
- Plates & Screws Fixation – The plates and screws method is very similar, in principle, to the method of intramedullary nailing. However, where the intramedullary nail is inserted inside the bone, the plate fixation method aligns the broken bone with a set of screws and metal plates on the outside surface.
External fixation is a non-invasive fracture treatment option that relies on stabilizing and immobilizing casts and braces to keep the fractured limb protected and properly aligned. Even once the bone has completely healed, patients may want to utilize a protective and stabilizing brace or knee sleeve while the knee continues to heal and the tendons and muscle tissue near the knee regain their full flexibility and strength to more confidently walk.
Other Spine List
- Normal Anatomy of the Knee Joint
- Knee Arthritis
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears
- Meniscus Tear
- Arthroscopy of the Knee Joint
- Total Knee Replacement (TKR)
- ACL Reconstruction Hamstring Tendon
- ACL Reconstruction Patellar Tendon
- Uni Condylar Knee Replacement
- Meniscus Repair
- Patellofemoral Instability
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament ACL Reconstruction