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Fractured Patella – A patient’s experience

                          Fractured Patella – An X Ray of Anna’s knee pre surgery

I broke my knee cap on 1st October 2018. While I was in the garden, I  managed to trip over the dog and some wood and landed at 90 degrees on my right knee onto a paving slab. 

A rapid trip to A & E at Bury St Edmunds confirmed there was indeed a break – a patella fracture. This led to surgery later on that day to wire the knee cap together. 

What happens after surgery for a patella fracture?

When I came round from the surgery my knee was firmly dressed and in a straight leg brace. After 2 nights I returned home, once I had proved I could manage short walks on crutches. The straight leg brace stayed in place for 2 weeks. Daily life was largely contained to bed rest or leg up on a sofa.

Fractured Patella -Anna post op with a compression bandage and straight leg brace

After 2 weeks, a return to the Orthopaedic outpatients, resulted in the dressings and 23 staples being removed from my knee. ( this was a little uncomfortable and I would recommend taking painkillers beforehand )

Once it was established that surgery had gone well, the dials on each side of the leg brace were reset to give me a 10 degree bend in the knee. The surgeon wanted to see me increase this to a 30 degree bend before my next outpatients visit. Gradually over what would be an 8 week period I had to achieve a 90 bend ( flexion) of my knee. 

Fractured Patella -Anna’s knee brace is adjusted weekly to gradually allow flexion of her knee

Physiotherapy for Patella Fracture

At my local hospital, hands on physio is no longer available on the NHS owing to funding issues and different training . To this day I am yet to receive a referral letter to receive limited physiotherapy on offer. This typically is a list of exercises and a hope that the patient will follow them. What a great shame. I certainly had great surgery, but the physio really is what makes a difference to one’s final outcome.

Physio at the Iveson Clinic

I first visited the Iveson Clinic 4 weeks after the accident, really keen to get some advice and reassurance about how to progress forward and get as much improvement as possible. At this time I was feeling pretty low, fearful about recovery and frustrated by the lack of post-operative support from the NHS. I was really hoping that I could get some professional guidance. My muscle wastage in the injured leg was very noticeable and having been physically fit beforehand, I could feel my body weakening.

4 weeks post op and Anna is very aware of the muscle wasting occurring in the quadriceps muscle above her knee


After just one visit, I felt very confident that I was now in safe hands. The physios gave me clear and practical advice and exercises to slowly bring my movement back. I listened to instruction and have religiously done my exercises. 

I attended weekly sessions for the first 3 months and then reduced the frequency gradually as I improved. To get the best results from physiotherapy, I have learnt that it is a partnership. You need to trust your physio and certainly take the advice and guidance about activity and exercise very seriously. With the best will in the world a physio cannot do the exercise for the patient. You really do get results back if you put the effort in!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Making Progress                                                                                                                                        

After 10 weeks I was able to drive my car again. However this was only for short journeys and it was nearly 6 months after the accident, that I felt able to drive long journeys comfortably. I can take my dogs for long walks and go to the gym. 10 months on , there are still some slight limitations which I hope to overcome in the next couple of months. 

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The photos above were taken in August, 10 months after the initial injury. There is a little way to go. I am hoping to run by October. This will be a year after my injury. I still attend physiotherapy once a month with Julie Iveson. She tracks my progress and guides me through this final phase to help me reach my optimal recovery. 


I am absolutely convinced that without physiotherapy, I would remain in considerable pain with a fraction of the range of motion that I have today. I cannot thank Julie and the team enough at the Iveson Clinic for their support

A few words Anna’s physio, Julie Iveson

Thank you Anna for sharing your story with us. Anna has been a brilliant patient. She has been so keen to do everything she can to help herself and and done her home exercises religiously. This has made such a difference to her recovery. 

Anna’s knee initially was very swollen, warm , stiff and sore. Anna was naturally a little nervous initially to bend the knee. However with some hands on physiotherapy to help reduce the swelling, ice to reduce the inflammation and scar massage to reduce the adhesions, Anna made quick progress with treatment. The post-operative exercise regime was gradually progressed week on week . It is interesting to see even 10 months how there is still some fear avoidance and protection of her knee. Anna is so determined, I am sure she will continue to progress in coming months. 

I totally agree with Anna that being compliant with her home exercises has made such a difference to her recovery. 

We hope by sharing this story it may help others going through the same experience or injury. If you haven’t heard from the hospital regarding your post-op physio, chase it. If you need hands on treatment to help your recovery, there are private physios only too happy to help. Hopefully one day the NHS will offer this invaluable part of physiotherapy again. 

For further information contact:

The Iveson Clinic on 01787 374964