A fracture is a crack or break in a bone that’s usually the result of an injury, overuse, or osteoporosis. Most fractures heal relatively well without problems.
Healing time depends on many factors, such as age, the type and severity of the injury, and whether other medical conditions are present.
You can count on our board-certified orthopaedic specialists at the Orthopaedic Institute of Henderson to provide knee fracture care.
We offer comprehensive care and provide the urgent attention you need to ensure normal bone healing, and we offer physical therapy, rehabilitation, and education. Our goal is to help you avoid future bone fractures.
How bones heal
Most tissues — such as skin, muscles, and internal organs — heal after a significant injury, replacing injured tissue with scar tissue. Bones heal by forming bone tissue.
A knee fracture heals at different rates for each person. Diseases that worsen blood flow (such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease) slow healing.
The bones need to be protected and held in place to heal. Your body quickly forms a defensive callus and blood clot that protects the injured area. Fresh threads form on both sides of the fracture, growing toward one another until they meet. The callus then falls off as the knee fracture heals.
Knee fracture healing process
Your knee is a complex, weight-bearing joint that might continue to feel uncomfortable and have a limited range of motion even after treatment. Knee fractures and other knee injuries frequently result in post-traumatic arthritis (thinning of cartilage due to trauma).
The healing time for your knee fracture may last up to a year, depending on the type of fracture. Recovery time depends on:
- Fracture type
- Fracture severity
- Fracture location
- Your age
- Whether your treatment was surgical or nonsurgical
Within three to six months, most of our patients can resume their regular routines. It might take longer for patients with severe fractures to resume their normal activities.
To help safeguard your knee and avoid future issues, we might recommend some lifestyle modifications like avoiding repetitive deep knee bending, squatting, stair climbing, or kneeling.
Even when your knee is immobilized and healing, you should be able to walk with a fractured knee. For each stage of recovery, your care team suggests exercises and weight-bearing limitations.
You can experience muscle loss (atrophy) in the leg after weeks or months of immobilization with a cast or splint. Physical therapy reduces muscle atrophy, stops it from getting worse, and helps you regain muscle mass, strength, and range of motion.
We might suggest physical and occupational therapy if you undergo knee surgery.
Rehabilitation is essential to getting you back to regular activities after either surgical or nonsurgical treatment.
Your knee may become stiff, and your thigh muscles may weaken because of the prolonged immobilization of your leg during treatment for a knee fracture. We show you exercises to perform as part of your rehabilitation to:
- Strengthen leg muscles
- Increase range of motion
- Decrease stiffness
We let you know when you can start putting weight on your leg. Typically, the first weight-bearing exercise involves gently touching your toe to the floor. You’re gradually able to put more weight on your leg as your injury heals and your muscles grow stronger.
Your knee fracture will probably hurt slightly for a few days to a few weeks. Many of our patients relieve pain by applying ice, elevating the affected leg, and taking over-the-counter medications.
If your pain is severe, we advise prescription-strength medication for a few days.
We also teach you how to prevent fractures. We help you adjust your training and teach you about dietary and exercise changes that help build stronger bones.
Call our Henderson, Nevada, office today for comprehensive fracture care or request an appointment online.