What is an avulsion fracture?
An avulsion fracture occurs when an injury causes a ligament or tendon to break off (avulse) a small piece of a bone that's attached to it. The ligament or tendon also may be damaged. This type of injury can happen in the hip, ankle, knee, heel, elbow, or pelvis.
What can cause an avulsion fracture?
An avulsion fracture can be caused by any activity that involves physical force. It can happen when you fall, kick, jump, or have to speed up or slow down very quickly. It may be caused by direct force, such as a hard tackle in football. Or it may be caused by indirect force, such as making a sudden turn in soccer or basketball.
What are the symptoms of an avulsion fracture?
You may feel a pop and sudden pain when the fracture occurs. You will probably have some pain and swelling in the area of the fracture. Sometimes the area will be bruised. Symptoms usually improve after the injury heals.
How is it diagnosed?
The doctor will examine the injured area and ask about your symptoms and past health. The doctor will probably do an X-ray to confirm the fracture.
How is an avulsion fracture treated?
Small fractures are usually treated with ice and rest. You may need a splint or a cast. These fractures rarely cause any problems, such as pain or discomfort, after the injury heals.
You may need surgery if the bone fragment is large and widely separated from the rest of the bone. Surgery may also be done if a tendon or ligament is badly detached.
You can return to sports or other physical activities after about 6 weeks to 6 months. How long it takes to recover depends on where the injury is, how serious it is, and how it is treated. It also depends on how quickly you have full range of motion without pain.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine