Avulsion Fractures

Avulsion fractures

What is an avulsion fracture?

Avulsion fractures occur when a small bone fragment attached to a tendon or ligament is torn away from the main bone.

Bones, joints, and organs are held in place by ligaments, while tendons connect muscles and bones. In an avulsion fracture, the bone moves in one direction while the tendon or ligament moves in the opposite direction, dragging a broken bone fragment behind it. This typically occurs when abruptly changing direction.

The bones of the ankle and foot are among the bones most susceptible to avulsion fractures.

What causes avulsion fractures?

Avulsion fractures are most commonly associated with participation in sport, with contact sports such as lacrosse, boxing, and football being the most frequent sports involved. These contact sports involve movements that place stress on your limbs for example abrupt changes in direction and speed, and at the same time the risk of collision with other players.

The following actions can result in avulsion fracture:

  • Sprinting.
  • Kicking.
  • Leaping.
  • Falling onto an extended hand.
  • Accelerating (becoming faster) or decelerating (becoming slower) abruptly (going slower).
  • As when a football player slides into a tackle.

What are the symptoms?

The most frequent symptoms of avulsion fractures are:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling.
  • Muscle pain.
  • A crackling or popping sound.
  • Pain that spreads to adjacent body parts.
  • If the broken bone is in or near the leg, you will be unable to walk or walk with difficulty.
  • It is difficult to move your limb.

Who do avulsion fractures affect?

Athletes and performers, including football players, ballet dancers, gymnasts, and skiers are commonly affected. However, avulsion fractures can occur in anyone.

Are Avulsion fractures serious?

Any fracture, including avulsion fractures, is serious.

If we believe that you’ve broken a bone, or have sustained an avulsion fracture we will advise you to rest and refer you for an X-ray immediately.

Professional medical treatment ensures that you will recover and return to your normal routine safely.

How are avulsion fractures diagnosed?

We will collect your complete medical history, including the duration and severity of your foot and ankle symptoms. We will also examine the affected area to determine the exact site of injury.

Then, refer you for X-rays of  the affected bones or joints. If X-rays are ambiguous, we may request a CT scan to examine your soft tissues and organs. This will provide a more precise view of your bones and joints as well as an examination of your soft tissues and organs.

How do avulsion fractures get treated?

  • The treatment of an avulsion fracture depends on the bone affected and the type of fracture. Typically, avulsion fractures are treated by immobilisation in a cast or splint.
  • Anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals.
  • Limitation of activity
  • Icing the region.

After the pain subsides, we recommend that you engage in Rehabilitation, which consists of physical exercises designed to increase your joint’s range of motion.

We may choose to use an insole to alleviate joint pressure and reduce tension on the ligament or tendon causing the fracture. This will help to support your foot and ankle and prevent further damage.

Occasionally, severe injuries with joint instability require surgery.

How long does it take to recover from avulsion fractures?

Fractures can require 3 to 12 weeks to heal completely.

We may choose to immobilise your joint for a few weeks by having you wear a cast, boot or splint.

Our rehabilitation programme can help increase the mobility of your foot and ankle joints and we offer programmes ranging from 6 weeks to 3 months at the clinic.

If you are suffering with foot pain, please contact us for advice. Our Podiatrists can tell you more about your treatment options, help you return to comfort quickly and let you get on with more important things in life.

Click here to book an appointment with one of our Podiatrists to find out more or complete the form and we’ll call you.

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    Or download a copy of our leaflet: Taking Ankle Pain Seriously
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