Help! What Is Acute Patellar Injury?

Help! What Is Acute Patellar Injury?

As a bodybuilder, you are going to be lifting massive amounts of weight, and with that, you are at risk of experiencing acute patellar injury, a weight lifting knee injury.

What Is Acute Patellar Injury?

The patella is your knee cap – that small bone that is in front of the knee – and its purpose is to protect the knee joint. Unfortunately, the patella is vulnerable to getting fractured should you fall directly onto it or something hits the knee cap.

When the patella is fractured, it is quite a serious because it makes it very difficult (sometimes even impossible) to straighten the knee or walk on it. So as you can imagine, lifting weights is going to have to go on the back burner until it heals.

Symptoms Of An Acute Patellar Injury

Acute Patellar Injury.

People who have acute patellar injuries will sometimes have one or any combination of the follow symptoms:

  • Knee pain when moving knee - People who have this injury will feel pain when moving or applying pressure on the kneecap.
  • Swelling in the knee - Just about anyone who has this kind of injury will experience some kind of swelling in the front of the knee. The more severe the injury, the more swelling.
  • Weakness - The quadriceps muscle isn’t going to contract, which will leave the leg feeling weak.
  • Bruising - Sometimes a reddish-bruise will form over the knee cap. The red color is the result of the blood rushing to the injured area. Over the next few days, it’ll turn to the typical blueish color.
  • Unable to walk or straighten leg - This injury is going to leave your knee swollen, which is going to cause you to be unable to walk or straighten the leg.

What to Do When You Suspect You Have An Acute Patellar Injury

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms and you haven’t gone to a doctor yet, there are some things you can do to help alleviate some of the pain until you can make a doctor’s appointment. During this time, you will want to:

  • Use an anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen to reduce pain and/or swelling.
  • Use crutches or avoid putting weight on the knee until you can go to the doctor.
  • Use the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method to help reduce swelling and pain.

What Can You Do To Prevent Injury

You can prevent injuring your knee cap by paying attention to knee tracking. What this means is paying attention to how your knee moves when you are exercising because your body is going to do a variety of squat and lunge-like movements.

Woman maintaining proper form while exercising.

Even though each movement is unique and there are different factors that need to be taken into consideration execute efficient and effective reps, you have to be wary of where you knee is relative to your foot.

It is important that when you follow the proper form for any given exercise, you will be less likely to become injured.

It’s also worth noting that you should also avoid any sudden changes when you’re lifting. This means you shouldn’t lift more than you can handle and when you do want to increase what you lift, you will want to do so gradually as to avoid said injuries.

No Injuries, Just Patellar Subluxation

Even if you don’t have a full blown knee injury, a slight dislocation (patellar subluxation) can be painful! This type of injury is when the knee cap is only partially dislocated. Generally it’ll go back into its normal position on its own.

However, it is possible to have something called “patellar subluxation syndrome.” This condition is when you dislocate your knee frequently and it causes damage to the cartilage in the back of the knee and it’ll also cause the connective ligaments to stretch.

Subluxation isn’t necessarily a result of any trauma being done to the knee like falling onto the knee cap or being hit in the knee cap. Instead, it can be caused by:

  • Bone structure - Sometimes people are just born with a patellofemoral grove that is shallow or rotated. This results in the knee cap not having a stable base to sit on.
  • Muscle weakness - Weak hip muscles and muscles around the knee aren’t going to be able to control the position of the leg. This results in having an unstable kneecap.
  • Soft tissue malfunction - The ligaments and tendons in your leg also help to hold your kneecap in place. If you’re flexible or if you’ve had troubles with patellar tracking in the past, your tissues are going to stretch easier and will not be able to hold your knee cap in place. And the adverse is true – if the soft tissue is too tight, it could cause the knee cap to move out of its patellofemoral groove.
  • Poor movement patterns - Some movements like running or jumping can cause your knee cap to partially dislocate.

Protective Gear Can Help

For those who suffer from subluxation, you can wear protective gear to help keep your knee cap in place. Things like knee braces and knee wraps can stabilize your knee cap so that it moves properly. The braces can give your knee cap the extra support your knee cap needs, while wraps or kinesiology tape (exercise tape) can reduce strain on the knee and prevent subluxation.

Knee braces.


For all of your good intentions of wanting to better your health or become a powerlifter, a knee injury can really throw a wrench in your plans. However, by being careful, knowing your body, and using knee braces, tape or wraps, you can significantly reduce the risk of injury or patellar subluxation.

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