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How Do I Treat an Avulsion Fracture?

A cast is often used to treat an avulsion fracture.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The question of how to treat an avulsion fracture may depend on several factors. These include age of the person with the fracture and the severity of the damage. In many cases, an avulsion fracture may not require that much treatment except diagnosis by a doctor and a prescribed rest period. More extensive means to cure an avulsion fracture could be employed when the fracture represents more significant injury.

It can help to understand what this type of injury is when trying to assess how to treat an avulsion fracture. In this form of injury, a ligament or tendon pulls away from the bone, often during a strenuous movement like a hard throw or a jump. As this occurs, the ligament or tendon, since it is attached to the bone, can carry a piece of the bone away with it.

Such an injury sounds very serious, but in many cases, the gold standard to treat an avulsion fracture is to allow people to rest, use icing as needed to bring down swelling and to possibly prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce inflammation. Rest period can last from two to six weeks depending on injury severity. Often, this is enough to allow the bone to reattach and heal. Some doctors plan on follow-up x-rays at a set point to make certain reattachment has successfully occurred.

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While the above strategy for treating an avulsion fracture may be employed in many instances, there can be times when greater intervention is required to address this injury. Sometimes as the tendon or ligament pulls, it becomes greatly damaged in the process. Such damage won’t allow the bones to knit back together properly and could affect function of the area that is fractured. In these cases, surgery to repair ligament or tendon damage could be required.

Another area of concern occurs when children get avulsion fractures. Kids often develop these along bone growth plates. When these fractures affect growth plates, there is real concern that the bone will not knit together properly, which may, in turn, result in malformations as growth continues. Doctors are likely to treat an avulsion fracture occurring on a growth plate with surgery to make certain healing is fully promoted and the injured area doesn’t affect future growth.

It should be noted that people aren’t advised to treat any form of fracture at home. Though avulsion fractures may seem more benign, at least some of the time, it’s impossible to know degree of bone or tissue damage without x-ray and doctor examination. All people who suspect they have a fracture should see a doctor to get diagnosis and proper treatment recommendations.

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