Avulsion Fracture

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Topic Overview

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 causes it?

An avulsion fracture may be caused by direct force, such as a hard tackle in football. Indirect force—such as a sudden turn in soccer or basketball—also can cause it. It can be caused by any activity that involves kicking, jumping, or having to speed up or slow down very quickly.

What are the symptoms?

You may feel a pop and sudden pain when the fracture occurs.

How is it diagnosed?

X-rays are usually used to diagnose a fracture.

How is it 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.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Yen YM, Kocher MS (2015). Pediatric and adolescent hip injuries. In MD Miller et al., eds., DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 1627–1628. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofMay 27, 2016