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Author Topic: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?  (Read 4386 times)

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Offline razberri92

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Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« on: March 03, 2015, 06:48:09 PM »
Hi Everybody,

I'm new here, I'm a 22yo female who fell on some black ice on Jan. 26th and broke my left patella straight through horizontally. It's a fairly clean break, but it's wide (the doctor's even thought that I had some kind of cyst of my knee, but it turned out that the fracture was just that big). I have a history of bilateral pulmonary embolisms, so the doctors were extremely hesitant to do surgery, and opted to allow the fracture to heal naturally if at all possible. Obviously, they put me back on blood thinners while I'm recovering from this injury.

For the first month, I was in a full cast (actually, two different casts for two weeks each). Now I'm in a movable brace that's currently only set on a 0-10degree angle. I've been in a wheelchair since the fall, but a couple days I'd tried switching to walking on a cane, and since then have been having pain and swelling, so the doctor told me to back off on that for a while. I started PT yesterday, and it was very slow, and surprisingly challenging, but it went okay.

I was supposed to graduate this semester, but because of this injury, I'm unable to drive to campus and navigate the campus to get to and from classes (especially in snow and ice). I've had to go on medical leave for school and my job (I work part-time at pet store -- can't be lifting heavy bags of dog food anytime soon).

I was just wondering how long these types of injuries usually take to heal?

There's so many things I'd like to plan for, but don't feel like I'm able to because I don't know how mobile I'll be in a couple months (I was going to do a summer internship for my Education degree, but I don't know if I'll be able to chase after kids over the summer). There's also several summer classes that I'd love to take (one involving working with disabled kids and horses), but again, I'm not sure I'll be in any shape to do any of these things. My mother seems to be convinced that I'll be able to do all of these things by the summer, but I'm not feeling so confident about that.

I also feel like I'm going stir-crazy which might be causing me to push things a little bit. I want to be able to go do stuff, but I feel like the only time I leave the house is for doctor's appointments and physical therapy.

Anyway, thanks in advance for any input!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 06:53:12 PM by razberri92 »

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 03:17:32 AM »
I have a follow up question:

Is it normal to experience a lot of pain after doing PT exercises? Specifically pain in the kneecap (not the muscles surrounding it)? I've had almost no pain for the past 2 or 3 weeks (or pain that's very easily controlled with minimal pain meds), and so it's a bit concerning now that the pain is back. It feels very similar to what it felt like when I first broke the knee.

Offline Sarahjaye

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2015, 06:44:40 PM »
I cracked my patella-so I haven't hurt myself as severely as you-but from what I've been reading it can take up to 12 weeks for a broken patella to heal. Other factors, like taking blood thinners, might slow the healing, but you will heal with time. I think the pain after PT is probably scar tissue breaking up (a good thing-but is very very painful) but you should discuss this pain with your therapist during your next appointment in case the exercises are aggravating your symptoms. Taking a pain killer before therapy can help with this. You also said you transitioned from a wheelchair to a cane-I would have recommended you use crutches prior to a cane since they can bear more of your weight than a cane. You should discuss your long term prognosis with your doctor so you can get a plan together to get you back on your feet before the summer-you might not be chasing kids, but you should be able to work with them.
Take heart, you can get through this!

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2015, 07:09:17 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement!

I have crutches, but I find that they're harder to navigate than the cane. The doctor suggested that I try part of the day on the cane and the rest on crutches for a while. So far it's going okay.

I was supposed to have my second PT session yesterday, but we got 17 inches of snow here, so that got cancelled. I go back on Monday.

Everyone keeps telling me that this injury is going to take a long time to heal, but that seems so vague to me. Originally the doctor said about 3-4 months after I got the cast off.

Offline Janner

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2015, 01:27:51 AM »
Hi,
I'm relatively new to this too! I broke my patella almost identically to you! I slipped on ice January 24th and split mine horizontally and also a wide gap, every radiographer who x-rayed me was surprised how I'd managed to do it!
I'm in the uk, my consultant wanted to avoid surgery also, so put me in a full cast for 4 and a half weeks. He advised me to weight bare, but I badly sprained my ankle at the same time so I couldn't. I'm now in a leg brace and have started physiotherapy, had my second session today. I am also in pain after physio, I think a lot of it's down to the muscle atrophy and tendons going to sleep from being in a cast, and also swelling and some scar tissue. Is your knee still quite swollen?

I was shocked just how weak my leg is when my cast came off, muscles waste quickly! I'm now weight barring on crutches and try and weight bare once or twice a day without the brace. I've been told it can take 3-6months for a full recovery. I'm finding my lack of rom frustrating, trying to increase the bending exercises daily at home now too. I guess physio is the hardest part of recovery and I also feel like it's never ending at times! Rest assured we shall get there though 😉 stick at it and good luck 😃

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2015, 01:37:44 AM »
Hi,
I'm relatively new to this too! I broke my patella almost identically to you! I slipped on ice January 24th and split mine horizontally and also a wide gap, every radiographer who x-rayed me was surprised how I'd managed to do it!
I'm in the uk, my consultant wanted to avoid surgery also, so put me in a full cast for 4 and a half weeks. He advised me to weight bare, but I badly sprained my ankle at the same time so I couldn't. I'm now in a leg brace and have started physiotherapy, had my second session today. I am also in pain after physio, I think a lot of it's down to the muscle atrophy and tendons going to sleep from being in a cast, and also swelling and some scar tissue. Is your knee still quite swollen?

I was shocked just how weak my leg is when my cast came off, muscles waste quickly! I'm now weight barring on crutches and try and weight bare once or twice a day without the brace. I've been told it can take 3-6months for a full recovery. I'm finding my lack of rom frustrating, trying to increase the bending exercises daily at home now too. I guess physio is the hardest part of recovery and I also feel like it's never ending at times! Rest assured we shall get there though 😉 stick at it and good luck 😃

Yes I do have quite a bit of swelling on and off. If I ice and elevate the knee it usually goes down. I get frustrated because my brain thinks "ok, leg, do this exercise" and then nothing happens. I have a friend who is a PT and she tells me that this is due to trauma and that eventually if I keep trying the exercises by brain and leg will catch on.

I also find bathing to be quite difficult, especially getting in and out of the shower. My knee usually swells a lot during and after I shower. Yesterday I had my parents put a folding chair in the shower and that helped  because my leg wasn't dangling and it didn't swell as much.

I've been working on my exercises every day, but I can't tell if it's helping yet. I'm hoping that I can find some patience because I don't want to over-do or try to do too much too soon.

I'm supposed to return to work at the pet shop next weekend for a 6 hour shift on Saturday and a 6 hour shift on Sunday. The manager knows that I'm only allowed to work the checkout, and that I have to have a stool or chair. Still, I'm worried that it's rushing things.

Offline Janner

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2015, 02:28:56 AM »
It's frustrating when it seems like progress is slow hey.. I also ice and elevate which does help, but I seem to have some swelling most of the time. I've found using a heat pad on my knee before doing the exercises really beneficial, it just warms the muscles up and makes it a little easier.
I've drove myself crazy at times with frustration that my leg won't do what I want it too! I found leg raises impossible until someone suggested putting a pillow under my knee and locking my foot then raising, I can manage a few raises now! My real problem is bending the knee, do you have much range of motion bending the knee?
Bathing is such a struggle, my physio advised me to have loads of baths as it's good to do done exercises supported by the water. It's difficult getting in and out but the water really does help.
I can't return to work until I can drive so I'm a way off that. I did go out for the day and was on my leg a lot and boy did I pay for it in the evening and following day! Maybe an idea for you to take some ice packs to work and elevate and ice it in your breaks. It's a fine line between doing too much and not enough.

I'm hoping to be on my feet by the summer, I've been told 3-6months full recovery but 6months is worst case scenario; so there's hope for us both for the summer!

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2015, 02:34:21 AM »
It's frustrating when it seems like progress is slow hey.. I also ice and elevate which does help, but I seem to have some swelling most of the time. I've found using a heat pad on my knee before doing the exercises really beneficial, it just warms the muscles up and makes it a little easier.
I've drove myself crazy at times with frustration that my leg won't do what I want it too! I found leg raises impossible until someone suggested putting a pillow under my knee and locking my foot then raising, I can manage a few raises now! My real problem is bending the knee, do you have much range of motion bending the knee?
Bathing is such a struggle, my physio advised me to have loads of baths as it's good to do done exercises supported by the water. It's difficult getting in and out but the water really does help.
I can't return to work until I can drive so I'm a way off that. I did go out for the day and was on my leg a lot and boy did I pay for it in the evening and following day! Maybe an idea for you to take some ice packs to work and elevate and ice it in your breaks. It's a fine line between doing too much and not enough.

I'm hoping to be on my feet by the summer, I've been told 3-6months full recovery but 6months is worst case scenario; so there's hope for us both for the summer!

I have very little range of motion right now. My doctor did ask if I had access to a pool since that's supposed to be excellent for recovery. I plan to look for a pool to join as soon as the weather starts clearing up.


Offline Heidi S

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2015, 08:30:20 PM »
Hi Razberri92,
I fractured my patella on 12/2/14 so I'm a bit ahead of you - just passed my 12-weeks post surgery mark - and thought I'd offer my perspective in answer to your question.  I had a similar situation, slipped on ice, displaced break in my left patella and also detached the patellar tendon.   At this stage of my recovery, I'd say I've made good progress:  I am walking on my own (stairs still rought), and my pain/swelling etc have decreased.  I was able to drive at around the 7 week mark, and walked on my own at about 10 weeks.  Sleep got better right around the 12 week mark, and is probably the most impactful development of all.  It is a long process and I can remember thinking/worrying that it would never improve - progress wasn't steady but more a series of plateaus and then new levels.   I still have a ways to go in terms of functionality - my ROM is only 120 - and I'm definitely chomping at the bit to resume my former activities (hiking, running, etc.).  But it really does get better, it just requires loads of patience and coping with the frustration...  I know everyone moves at their own pace but I'd say the 3 month mark is a kind of turning point, and I hear the 6 month mark is another sort of milestone (looking forward to that!).  I hope this helps, and all the best to you in your recovery! I found this website such a resource and support through some tough times, so I'm glad you're here, and hope you'll keep sharing your progress.  My best,  Heidi
12/2/14:  Fractured L. Patella, tore P. Tendon
12/9/14:  ORIF Surgery + repair p. tendon
12/23/14: PWB on crutches
1/5/15:  ROM 65
1/14/15: ROM 70
1/23/15: ROM 90
2/3/15: ROM 105; stationary bike
2/11/15: ROM 114; first steps!
3/3/15: ROM 121
3/24/15: ROM 132

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 02:11:47 AM »
I just wanted to post a quick update:

I went back to work last week, and am working only a couple days a week. Right now I can only sit at the register and ring people out, but at least I'm out doing something, and making some money is helpful, too.

I've been going to PT twice a week, and it seems to be helping. They're begun adding ankle-weights to a few of my exercises! I am getting around a bit easier than before.

I started driving last week kind of on accident when my friend, who was supposed to drive me to PT, got a flat tire on the way to pick me up. It's been so good to be able to get out a bit more. I even got to go to a friends house to watch a movie!

I go back to the doctor this week to see how everything is healing.

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2015, 04:31:06 PM »
Another Update:

Unfortunately, I received bad news at my doctor last week. The x-rays showed that my knee is not healing as it should be. There's too much of the fracture still present, and the doctor said that she really did not like the look of it. She also poked around on my knee, and said that she didn't like the results of that, either. She told me to stop PT altogether until we can get this figured out, and I had to move the brace back down to a 0-20 degree angle, and leave it there until further notice.

At this point, she's really regretting the choice to not do surgery. She said that it was a gray area, and that now all we can do is protect the knee as best as possible. We're working on seeing if we can get a bone stimulator, but the problem is that the Patella is considered a short bone, and these kinds of devices are normally only approved for long bone fractures. Apparently the insurance company has to gather a panel to see whether they're going to approve this treatment. Meanwhile I have to just sit tight.

This news was extremely shocking, and disappointing. I really thought I was doing so well. This whole thing delays progress significantly. I'm trying to remain optimistic, but I'm also highly aware that at 22 years old, I have to have a functioning knee.

Offline razberri92

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 03:38:11 AM »
My knee is still not healed, so I'm going to have surgery on Thursday, May 7th. They're not sure what they're going to do yet, but hopefully it fixes the problem. Then, of course, recovery time starts over.


Offline Runner81

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 01:23:57 PM »
Sorry to hear that! Hope your surgery goes well

Offline KINICO

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Re: Fractured Patella Average Healing Time?
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2015, 03:39:44 AM »
How are you doing? Did you have surgery? I'm a year from when I broke my patella into 7 pieces. Had 2 surgeries so far and going to see Dr frank noyes, a knee specialist in Cincinnati July 21. I have scar tissue and a shortened patella tendon now.















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