An avulsion fracture is when a ligament or tendon attached to the bone pulls away from the bone and tears off a piece of bone along with it. If you have an avulsion fracture, it is important for a physician to determine the extent of the damage and put a treatment plan in place.
A health care provider will perform a physical exam and discuss your symptoms with you, which often involve pain, tenderness and swelling. The injured area often becomes weak and you will probably lose range of motion. If left without treatment, you may lose stability in the injured area and you may feel as if it will give out.
A doctor normally uses conventional X-rays to confirm an avulsion fracture. In addition to the X-ray, she may order an MRI to determine the extent of damage to the ligaments and tendons through high resolution imaging and to reveal the location of the avulsion, as well as the size. Confirmation of an avulsion fracture is paramount to recovery so that the right treatment can be applied to the injury.
Treatment for avulsion fractures usually require rest; the condition can often heal on its own within four to six weeks of rest. Apply ice to the injured area for approximately 20 minutes every few hours to reduce inflammation and pain. A physician will provide a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication. Depending on where the fracture is, you may need crutches to allow the area to rest.
Sometimes casting the injured area is required to help stabilise it, facilitate healing and prevent further injury. You may need a walking boot, cast or splint, depending on the severity of the avulsion fracture.
If you have an avulsion fracture you may need a physical therapy program for approximately three to six weeks to improve range of motion and strength. Physical rehabilitation may be the primary treatment or it may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as casting or surgery.
If the bone fragment tears away from its site or if there is severe damage to the ligament or tendon, then you may need surgery to repair the area or reattach it to the bone. If a child has an avulsion fracture on a growth plate, he will probably require surgery to help reduce complications and prevent chronic pain and inflammation in the avulsion area.