Avulsion Fractures

By Robert Lim PTA

What is are Avulsion Fractures?

An avulsion fracture is where a small piece of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone. During an avulsion fracture, your bone moves one way, and your tendon or ligament moves in the opposite direction with a broken piece of bone attached. This most often happens when you suddenly change direction when performing a movement. An avulsion fracture can happen to any bone with a connection to a tendon or ligament. The bones that are most at-risk of an avulsion fracture include the elbow, foot and ankle, wrist and finger, hip bones and the entire spine.

The most common place for an avulsion fracture to occur is the hip. JOI Rehab

Avulsion Fracture in the Hip

What causes Avulsion Fractures?

Most individuals at risk are people that play sports especially sports that involve contact such as football, lacrosse, boxing, or MMA. Sports that involve running and cutting movements are also at risk as well. Movements that put you at an increased risk are

  • Running
  • Sprinting
  • Kicking
  • Jumping
  • Hitting in boxing
  • Sliding such as a baseball and softball

These types of sports put stress on joint thus increasing your chances for having avulsion fracture when engaging such activity. Another type of movement that can cause an avulsion fracture is falling on an outstretched arm.

What are the Common Symptoms of an Avulsion Fracture?

The most common symptom of an avulsion fracture is bruising, swelling, popping and cracking sound. Depending on area of the body for example if your avulsion fracture is in the leg, you might have some difficulty with walking with a limp especially if its in the foot and ankle area. Additionally, If the avulsion fracture is in the hand and wrist area, you might have some difficulty with gripping or performing pinching type activity. If you find yourself having difficulty with pain and loss of function, you might need to schedule a follow up with your doctor to set a treatment plan for your avulsion fracture.

Woman with hip pain from an avulsion fracture. JOI Rehab

Woman with Hip Pain from an Avulsion Fracture

Avulsion Fracture Diagnosis

Most fractures are going to be diagnosed by a few common testing’s that you might be common with. X-rays will be the most common to look at your bones and joints. CT scan to look at your soft tissues and organs and get a more precise view of your bones and joints. An MRI might be performed as well depending on your doctor thinks if muscle, tendons, or ligaments might be torn.

What is the Treatment for Avulsion Fractures after Diagnosis?

Treatment for avulsion fracture depends on which bone is broken and the type of avulsion fracture. Treatment for an avulsion fracture includes being immobilized in a cast or splint, the use of NSAIDS, rest and being prescribed physical therapy / occupational therapy. Surgery is occasionally required for severe injuries with joint instability or very severe bone breaks. Physical therapy or occupational therapy for avulsion fracture include simple range of motion, mobility/flexibility and strengthening exercises. This is all dependent on the initial evaluation of your injury. Each individual treatment plan will vary.

Written By: Robert Lim PTA

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