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Author Topic: Fractured Patella recovery time  (Read 155592 times)

Offline SparklingSeas

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Fractured Patella recovery time
« on: April 28, 2009, 02:36:39 PM »
Hello! I am so happy to have found this board. Seems like there is a wealth of information and everyone seems helpful and friendly.
I am a (young!) 52 yr old woman, slim and pretty active from the Dallas, Tx area. I slipped on ADA truncated dome tactile tile  (nobby inset tiles that are used in public places so that the visually impaired will know they are approaching traffic). http://www.armor-tile.com/articles_docs4/Tactile-tile-visually-impaired.html
My patella was broken in half and there was also some breakage in the lower piece of the patella. My fall happened on 3/21 which was a Friday so I spent a long weekend on pain meds and in an immobilizer. I did not see an OS until the following Monday and had surgery on 3/25. For some insane reason my OS did this surgery as day surgery. I had the figure 8 repair that seems pretty typical for this type of break. I have 2 pins and a wire. I went home from my day sugery around noon and was back at the ER by 4pm in agony. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed for 4 days for pain management.
I started PT at 3 weeks. I am going 3 times a week and am making progress. I cannot tell you what degree ROM I have, but I can bend my knee about half way. I am on crutches still at 1 month post-op. I still have considerable pain. I see my OS again on 5/4.
Sleep is so difficult. I have pain in my knee, hip and I have pulled a muscle in my chest using my crutches. I am certainly getting better, but I am wondering what to expect from here. The injury was to my right knee. I am wondering about driving. I know there is no way right now, but I am just curious as to what I might expect. Overall I wonder how long the recovery is for this sort of injury. My OS is ellusive. I understand that each case is differnt, but family and friends seem to think I should be further along. I feel like I am progressing, but it is slow. So, I am asking the impossible question... When will I be anywhere near healed? LOL!
Thanks for reading my story. I wish you all speedy and complete recoveries!

Offline SavannahRobin

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 04:48:35 PM »
Dear Sparklin Seas...
First of all...Welcome. I, too, am in my early 50's, slim and very active, broke my patella and had to have surgery. I remember the ER doctor telling me that healing of this injury was going to be a"long haul."  I had surgery and was also sent home that same day with very strong pain medication. In the beginning I, like you, was very confused about the future of my injury and what was to come.
But to be honest I am very excited about my progress thus far. My surgery was on December 22 of 2008. I, actually, drove 10 days later but now know I shouldn't have. My OS and I never discussed it so I just struck out on News Year's Day after crying, in despair about my situation, all morning. I never knew the driving would be a milestone until I read the postings on this site. Now I wonder what I was thinking but at the time it seemed like the only way to keep from going insane plus I injured my left knee which gave me a little advantage over you.
If I could give one tidbit of valuable information pertaining to recovery of a patella fracture it would be to try not to get discouraged when you feel during PT that you aren't going to get any better. I cannot tell you how many times I felt sooo much pain doing normal day to day activites and honestly thought I'm always going to limp or my leg is never going to bend back as far as it did before or my knee's always going to wake me in the middle of the night hurting or I'm never going to be able to kneel......the list goes on. I have created and met many of my own milestones and after only four months am amazed at the progress I've made.
I have been blessed with an amazing OS and incredible PT which I recommend you commit to 100%. There will be days when you excercise thru pain and wonder if you're helping yourself, days when you walk in feeling great and walk out feeling crippled but, trust me, you are doing the right thing and you will get better. It will take time and you need to always be aware that your knee is healing and will take time. At four months I am beginning to feel confident that my injury will indeed become an old memory. In my head I've got a one year mark to feel completely normal.
You are just starting this crazy painful process but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to be patient and your tell your family that this is a long recovery if a year is long...people with more severe injuries would say this is a very short recovery.
Good luck and happy healing.....Robin

12/20/08 slip and fall in water at a restaurant
12/20/08 diagnosed closed displaced comminuted left patella fracture
12/22/08 open treatment with internal fixation ~ wire, 2 screws, corkscrew anchor
2/16/09 fwb ~ no crutches
4/16/09 Released OS, PT still limping, stiff knee

Offline SparklingSeas

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 05:25:26 PM »
Thank you Robin! I appreciate your encouraging words! It just seems like everyone is surprised that I am still on crutches, still in pain, still healing.
I am working hard at PT, though there are days I'd like to skip it!
Your post makes me feel very hopeful. Thank you so much!

Offline SavannahRobin

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 05:43:04 PM »
Sparkling;
To be barely past a month and still be in pain and on crutches is not, by any means, too long.....I actually got rid of my crutches at 6 weeks just to have problems with my IT band and had to start using them again. That was at 2 1/2 months. After the bone heals there is considerable stress on the muscles surrounding the kneecap that have, basically, gone to sleep during the long rest and have to be reawakened. Thats where the real pain comes from ~ at least in my case.
This site will be your biggest source of comfort in the healing days ahead. I look forward to hearing of your progress......Take Crae, Robin
12/20/08 slip and fall in water at a restaurant
12/20/08 diagnosed closed displaced comminuted left patella fracture
12/22/08 open treatment with internal fixation ~ wire, 2 screws, corkscrew anchor
2/16/09 fwb ~ no crutches
4/16/09 Released OS, PT still limping, stiff knee

Offline Heathers new knee

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 07:17:23 PM »
Hi!  :)
Oh Boy! Sorry to hear you've found yourself in the broken patella group. No fun, huh? It'll be 2 yrs post-fx next month for me. I hope you recover fast!!  ;D

Well, what can I say about these nasty ole patella fractures. It's actually not that common of an injury as one might think. We represent about 1% of all fractures and, I've seen some folks bounce back pretty fast. On the other hand, it can be rough and rocky as damage/injury is very extensive. Unfortunately, mine was just a really bad break.

Crutches are a catch 22. We need them to get over the hump but, please beware of any limping/pain/extension loss. Those 3 things should be in check before you try to drop them altogether. I finally had a major combo surgery on 1/26 to help mine along and still using one crutch. Somedays it's more for balance, other days it's a hard lean into it. Pain is the deciding factor. Pace yourself, ok? Once you're strong enough and feel better, a quad cane might be a great option. I'm sorry but, the rest of ourselves don't seem to like the crutches much. If you're still taking pain meds, that might help those areas, too. Gets me right inbetween the shoulder blades. PT can also help if it's ordered.

Are you taking pain meds? Sometimes the docs will give stronger ones at night just so folks can sleep. Most likely, it would be the same ones you'd need for PT. My PT scolds me all the time because I haven't slept. "You HAVE to get REM sleep to heal." I'd recommend a polar pack Iceman if you don't have one, too. How's the swelling/heat/etc? I'm very sorry to say that this can take a VERY long time to bounce back from. Turtle speed is an overestimation for some. The important thing is that you're continuing to make progess, ok?
Take care and happy healing!

Heather  ;D
5/07 Sev. comminuted,displaced L patella fx,ORIF,brace,crutches
7/07 PT
9/07 Hardware removal,MUA,crutches,PT
5/08 J brace,patellofemoral arthritis,PT
12/08 Appt w/ patella specialist: L-TTT,LR PFJR,scope,scar tissue debridement-1/26/09
8/09-RSD,PT
2/10-TTT screws removed,scar tissue debridement

Offline SparklingSeas

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2009, 02:58:35 AM »
Thank you Heather. I am learning that patience is a huge part of this experience. Fortunately I am an artist so I can still do my work.
I appreciate your advice and good words.
take care~Dale

Offline Heathers new knee

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2009, 02:28:09 PM »
Hey Dale  :D~

That's a HUGE break that you're still able to work. Good for you!  ;D My injury has pulled the rug from under my feet on my job. I'm a nurse and in my 30's. Not a good time for something like this to happen, huh? When I do go back, it'll have to be a position that doesn't require 9-16 hours a day on my feet. I still have pain but, it's more of a chronic type versus acute now. Just hope my new career niche is in the cards someplace. Got about a year of healing ahead of me right now.

Patience is definitely something we have to find within ourselves to rehab through this injury. I've had 2 surgeons so far (one to repair my fracture and the other to do the PFJR, TTT, etc.). Both have told me many times, "you'll have to be patient, things will get better". I hope so and the same to you!  ;D

Please keep posted. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, ok? Take care!

Heather  :)
5/07 Sev. comminuted,displaced L patella fx,ORIF,brace,crutches
7/07 PT
9/07 Hardware removal,MUA,crutches,PT
5/08 J brace,patellofemoral arthritis,PT
12/08 Appt w/ patella specialist: L-TTT,LR PFJR,scope,scar tissue debridement-1/26/09
8/09-RSD,PT
2/10-TTT screws removed,scar tissue debridement

Offline SparklingSeas

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2009, 01:50:52 AM »
Heather~ Oh, that is tough! Nursing is so demanding. I do hope you will be able to return to your carrer!
Again, thank you for your great advice. Tonight my knee is so tight it feels like it is going to rip apart as I try to bend it. It is so hot and swollen. I guess that is my reward for working hard at PT today. LOL! Honestly, though right now the worst thing is not being able to sleep. That is making me a little nuts.
Well, I can always hope that this will be the night I actually sleep for more than 3 hours!
I hope things improve for you!
take care~Dale

Offline Heathers new knee

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2009, 02:35:58 AM »
Hi Dale~

Yup! these knees get so hot you could fry something, don't they? Ice is still my best friend!  ;D That "should' start to settle somewhat within a few months. Mine did before and has again just recently after this past surgery 3 months ago. Now, it just gets hot at random times throughout the day, mostly after exercises. Interesting though, the heat has never totally disappeared in 2 yrs.

Are you elevating your knee at most times above heart level? The polar pack is nice because you just fill it with ice water, put a thin barrier cloth between your knee and the pad and let it go for up to 6 hours or so. Ahhh!!  :D I also wore TED hose during that post-op time when swelling can be so tricky to budge. They did help it from getting even bigger. Now, I just have to be careful with how long I'm on my feet. The suprapatellar pouch balloons up fast. If you can improve the swelling, the tightness isn't so harsh, too. Another major culprit can be scar tissue. The OS just removed a truckload from me.

I hope some of the tips I've mentioned will help you sleep. Are you taking pain meds? If so, you may need something stronger for bedtime. Sleepless nights just makes it worse, don't you think? My knee still wakes me up, too. I take one pain pill before bed and it's about 4 hours until BAM! it hits me. Gone back to the immobilizer to keep things still, I must kick wrong or something. When I wear it, I can't move around a much.

How's the PT going? What kinds of exercises are you up to so far? It's a great thing when progress happens but, ya have to watch the inflammation REALLY close during and after PT. It can be a big hold up for us. My ROM went backwards a few degrees today. I was sooo bummed!  :( Got some ionto again, which is a steroid treatment, and lots of ice.

Thanks for the well wishes for me and my career, too. I hope you can stay on the up and get better fast! Thumbs up for all that hard work...it should start to pay off soon! Take care and have a good night!

Heather  ;D
5/07 Sev. comminuted,displaced L patella fx,ORIF,brace,crutches
7/07 PT
9/07 Hardware removal,MUA,crutches,PT
5/08 J brace,patellofemoral arthritis,PT
12/08 Appt w/ patella specialist: L-TTT,LR PFJR,scope,scar tissue debridement-1/26/09
8/09-RSD,PT
2/10-TTT screws removed,scar tissue debridement

Offline ksaunders

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2009, 08:54:20 AM »
Hi,

Life does get better. Patella fractures are a complicated injury. Bone superficially heals quickly, but takes some time to heal to the core and regain some of its strength. This is especially the case with the patella cos of the location of the bone.
The muscle wastage is the hardest thing to overcome as it takes time to build it up and re-train it. My lower quads are still relatively under-developed
 and my injury was 8 months ago. That has not stopped me trying to do relatively normal things. I was running 10k twice weekly again up until yesterday, when my hardware was removed.
I know - I've got to start basic pt again, but I also know it is possible to get your life back to normal. Whilst it may seem a long way off, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Stay positive.

Kevin
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 04:53:43 PM by ksaunders »
31/8/08 - left patella fracture
1/9/08 - surgery wired and pinned
19/9/08 - 105 ROM
20/10/08 - No crutches
6/11/08 - 140 ROM
6/11/08 - re-fractured patella, brace again
21/11/08 - back to one crutch, ROM 135
26/11/08 - back to work
21/2/09 - running again
1/5/09 - hardware removed

Offline SparklingSeas

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 10:04:01 PM »
I has my 6 wk post-op OS appointment yesterday. I went to his office directly from PT (it is just down the hall), so my ROM was good having just completed my therapy. X-rays show my patella is healing well. The doctor tells me i can use 1 crutch now and I do not have to wear my brace anymore. So, I was pretty happy and scampered (HA!) out of his office unbraced and on one crutch. I went with my daughter to do  a few errands and by the afternoon my my knee was KILLING ME! I had an awful night and today has been pretty rough. I am actually WANTING to wear my evil brace. Ugh...
I am not looking forward to PT tomorrow. I have a lot of swelling despite icing and raising my knee most of today.
Oh, well...
Hope all of you are having better days!

Offline fannyfatigue

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2009, 07:45:49 PM »
Hi Sparkling Seas,

I will be paying close attention to your progress because I am also a 52 yr old female that fractured my patella (for the 2nd time) on 3/20/09.  (10 wks. to the day after the 1st one.)  Hmmm, apparently I wasn't very healed, so this time I found a new OS with outstanding credentials.  ORIF surgery was on 4/7, so I am 2 weeks behind you for post-op and 4 wks. for PT. 

The 1st fracture did not require surgery, because it was not in pieces like this one.  Actually, even though I wore an immobilizer for 6 wks. I was able to do most everything, just a bit slower.  PT was a breeze and we all thought I was "good to go".  Then I put my foot down to go down a concrete staircase and my kneecap exploded into several pieces.

This time has not been such a cake walk.  I have been on my fanny and crutches for 7 1/2 wks. now and going completely stir crazy.  Up until now my dr. did not want me doing anything.  5 days ago he unlocked my brace to allow movement and told me partial weight bearing & crutches for 2 more wks.  After that WBAT.  At this point I have extremely limited movement, regardless of how much I try.  My quads have atrophied considerably because of the extended immobilization (since Jan. a total of 13 wks.)  PT starts tomorrow.  As nervous as I am, I am looking forward to it because I know it means progress.  Friday, I ventured out for a few hours and also paid the price that night and the following day.

You're correct, people don't understand the severity of this injury or the rehabilitation time needed.  Quite honestly I didn't either until this 2nd go round.  My advice is listen to your gut.  Don't push too hard because you don't want a repeat performance.  My OS reminds me everytime he sees me "don't over do it, sometimes less is more."  This is completely out of character for me, so it won't be easy. 

Are you able to do a straight leg raise yet?  For the life of me I cannot do it without a strap for help.

Hoping you are feeling better now and looking forward to your progression posts because I'm right behind you.
1/9/09-fx r patella
2/17-OS rls-150ROM   
3/12-PT rls
3/20-shattered
4/1-OS#2
4/7-ORIF, 2 screws/cerclage suture
5/4-PWB
5/11-beg PT-20-30
5/18-WBAT w/crutches, brace off-42
6/19-AF-ext dbrdmt, synovectomy, meniscus mua-90
6/25-65
7/27-105
8/6-122
9/3-130ROM
10/12-PT, 11/9/09-OS rls :)

Offline SparklingSeas

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2009, 12:52:05 AM »
Hi FF~ I am so sorry that you are dealing with a second patella break. I am making slow progress. I am on one crutch now and am allowed to go without my brace. My OS seems to think I am an Olympic athlete or something. He has high hopes for me. I am feeling better and am able to bend my knee with much more ease. I am up a lot more, but I know what you mean about paying the price. I have so much swelling and pain. I am so SICK OF HURTING! Sleep is still difficult and I think the accumulated effects of 6 weeks of lousy sleep are wearing me down.
I have yet to meet anyone at PT who has this injury. I talk to a lot of knee replacement folks and they seem to be doing much better than me. What's with that? Also, when I tell them I broke my kneecap (in half) they seem to think that is nothing.  This forum is the only place that I don't feel like there is something wrong with me that I am not totally healed already. So frustrating!
I can barely do a straight leg lift and it hurts like a %^$#$@!
Sorry to be so negative. Hasn't been a great day. I just wish I had a letter that said "Hey, FYI~ This takes a while to get over!".
I hope you are doing well. PT really does help. Too bad mine runs out very soon due to my insurance.
take care~Dale

Offline Heathers new knee

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2009, 03:52:01 PM »
Hi Dale~

I'm so sorry about this for you...patella fractures are terrible. One little sesamoid bone can surely cause alot of havoc. It not only affects the knee but, also the rest of the leg/hip/ankle and sometimes the good knee complains from over-compensation. Please do be careful, ok. What are you taking for pain? Can you ask about something stronger? When I fractured mine, MAX. doses of hydrocodone didn't even take the edge off and I'm a tiny person. Sometimes, OS's will also give you something to help you sleep. I'd also recommend a polar pack if you don't have one. It's a great adjuvant to keep the inflammation at bay.

You ARE making progress, though. Thumbs up for that, ok? A healing x-ray is a VERY good sign! ;) Mine is getting acclimated to the prosthesis now, so it feels anyhow. Last x-rays were good, too. It's the tibia (TTT) that's concerning because the bone became so soft...fingers crossed on that. Hopefully, weight-bearing will help yours from becoming that way.

Been in PT here almost continuously since 7/07 (short break from 11/08- 3/09) and have never met anyone else there who's had this fracture, either. You're right, it's just rare. When working, most of my patients had TKR's and things like that. Known a few folks around here to do it, though. One young man hit a tree while snowmobiling and literally blew his kneecap apart with an open fracture. Nothing to save. :-\

Man O' man, you are right about the SLR's! They DO hurt! Not sure what your PT says about working through pain like that but, mine has always cut the exercise if it goes above a 3-4 on the scale. Actually, I'm just now getting a few SLR's in with minimal discomfort. This might help if you're due to be D/C'd from PT. Do you have a means of having water therapy? You can exercise through it with sooo much less pain. Back to it after this surgery and it's GREAT! ;D Hope can can find a way to continue on. Increased strength usually means less pain, too.

Take care and hope you get to feeling better soon. Please keep posted. TTYL...
Heather  ;D
5/07 Sev. comminuted,displaced L patella fx,ORIF,brace,crutches
7/07 PT
9/07 Hardware removal,MUA,crutches,PT
5/08 J brace,patellofemoral arthritis,PT
12/08 Appt w/ patella specialist: L-TTT,LR PFJR,scope,scar tissue debridement-1/26/09
8/09-RSD,PT
2/10-TTT screws removed,scar tissue debridement

Offline fannyfatigue

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Re: Fractured Patella recovery time
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2009, 07:33:58 PM »
Hi Dale,

It is very encouraging to hear that your brace is off, you can do a SLR and movement is coming easier for you.  I would love to know what degree your ROM is at.  I'm also curious as to what exercises they have progressed you to and how many times a week you go to PT.  (I hope your insurance will extend your PT time for you.  Mine gave me 9 wks. the 1st time, so I'm assuming I'll get much more this time because it is so much worse.  We'll see.)  Do they have you on the exercise bike yet or is it too soon?  Last time I went through this my PT told me the bike will be my best friend for the rest of my life because it lubricates the joint.  (It's that WD-40 we all feel the need for.)  So of course I ran right out and bought one.  I found a gently used one on Craigs List & got to use it for a whopping 2 wks. before I was on my rear again.  LOL..  You are a wonderful barometer for me, because of our cases being so similar.  Hopefully we can encourage and motivate each other.

My 1st day at therapy on Monday was discouraging, but motivating for me.  We were only able to get 30 degrees out of this bugger, so yesterday I did my 2 (whoopi !!!) exercises I was given many times throught the day.  Will do the same today, so hopefully when I go back tomorrow we can see a miraculous improvement.  LOL...  Luckily I am working with the same therapist as before, so she knows my drive.  Both the PT & OS think I'll be able to achieve 100%, but that it will take about a year to get there.  They even think I may be able to snow ski again, however I'm not convinced of that due to the psychological impact of this.  I'm a bit paranoid of doing something wrong now, let alone later.  I NEVER want to go through this again!     

Try not to let others get you down.  My husband thinks when my brace comes off that I'm healed and he'll be off the hook of caregiver.  Boy will he be surprised.  lol...  It's a marathon baby! 

Seriously though, this too shall pass.  Keep up the good work and I hope we all get a good nights sleep soon.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 07:14:37 PM by fannyfatigue »
1/9/09-fx r patella
2/17-OS rls-150ROM   
3/12-PT rls
3/20-shattered
4/1-OS#2
4/7-ORIF, 2 screws/cerclage suture
5/4-PWB
5/11-beg PT-20-30
5/18-WBAT w/crutches, brace off-42
6/19-AF-ext dbrdmt, synovectomy, meniscus mua-90
6/25-65
7/27-105
8/6-122
9/3-130ROM
10/12-PT, 11/9/09-OS rls :)