What is a Avulsion Fracture?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2018
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An avulsion fracture is a type of fracture in which part of the bone is broken off or “avulsed” from the rest of the bone. While this might sound scary, these fractures are actually very easy to treat in most cases. The exception to this rule is extensive avulsion fractures, and certain types of fractures in children.

The word “avulsion” literally means “tearing.” These fractures are typically caused when so much force is exerted on a tendon or ligament that it pulls away, tearing off a chunk of bone along the way. In many cases, people have a tough time getting an avulsion fracture, because their muscles send signals to the body telling them to stop before they hurt themselves. Athletes, who push through such signals, are at risk of fractures. So are children, because their growing bones will break before their young tendons and ligaments will.

In a basic avulsion fracture, an X-ray of the site reveals that a small piece of bone has been torn away. By resting the affected area, icing it periodically, and using anti-inflammatory drugs to keep down inflammation and infection, the fracture can be treated. Sometimes, however, a large piece of bone is removed, or the bone is significantly dislocated. In these instances, surgery is required to address the fracture. In children, this type fractures can damage the growth plate of the bone, causing long-term damage unless surgery is performed.


These fractures are most typically caused by a jumping or throwing motion. They may feel more like torn or pulled muscles, since the muscle tissue is often damaged in the process. If an avulsion fracture is suspected, a doctor can take an X-ray of the area of the interest to determine whether or not a fracture has occurred, and to see how serious the fracture is. A simple recommendation of rest is sometimes the best prescription for this type of fracture.

When surgery is performed on an avulsion fracture, the goal is to reattach the piece of bone which has been torn away, and to address the associated torn ligament or tendon. Recovery periods can be lengthy for more serious fractures, as any trauma to the area can cause the fracture to recur, or make it worse, two outcomes which are most definitely undesirable. Athletes in particular tend to be at risk of re-damaging the fractures by getting back into training too soon — it's important to see a doctor to get the OK before taking up physical activity again.


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Post 20

My brother has had an undiagnosed pain on the right side of his rib cage for three years now. Just by looking at his rib cage, you can see a bulge on the lower part of his ribs. He's been in pain for years now, and can't sit or stand for too long because of the discomfort. He has seen countless doctors, but for some reason nobody has been able to give him a definite answer of what the problem is.

The pain started after he moved a really heaving machine at the gym, so I'm thinking its an avulsion fracture of his rib? Not sure if that even makes sense? Can someone recommend a doctor that would specialize in this? We don't care where the doctor is located. because we just want an answer so that he can get better and get on with his life. Thanks in advance!

Post 19

I had an avulsion fracture on my left ankle. I have gone through a surgery where I have been fitted with two screws to join the broken bone. It's been 20 days since then,. but it still hurts and I still have some swelling around my ankle. Any idea how long these kinds of surgeries take to heal?

Post 18

When I was in grade 9 (26 years ago), I suffered a pelvic avulsion fracture. I was out of school the rest of the year, but eventually was able to get around. I have dealt with it bothering me off and on for years, until a year ago when it started to really bother me. I was unable to lift my leg, had pain when I tried to run, etc. Then two weeks ago, I forgot about it and tried to climb a ladder. It let go with a vengeance.

I have been booked for surgery to fix it. I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this type of old injury flare up like this and how long I can expect to be out of commission. I am sure the surgeon will tell me in two weeks, but I am kind of impatient!

Post 17

I just went to emergency care with pain in my left foot. They said it was an avulsion fracture. On the x ray at one angle, you can see two small pieces of bone broken off. I'm not even sure how I did it. They sent me to an orthopedist and he said it may be gout. I think it was because I just could not remember any trauma that caused me to stop an say wait something is wrong. So I'm about to go back to the ortho. I think the first doc was right. I'm in a boot and went to goodwill to get some crutches for three bucks. Shout out to goodwill. Anyway, the pain isn't to bad with ice and some Tylenol. I take the boot off sometimes, with not much pain. The only pain is went I try and walk, even with the boot on.

Post 16

I am 15 and did it to my hip/ upper pelvic bone. I was doing high jump and twisted my body and in the process my muscle ripped my growth bone off. I will probably have to get surgery and am in a lot of pain. I did it approximately 36 hours ago. When will it get better?

Post 15

I was diagnosed with a hand avulsion fracture. I have lots of pain. I am being sent back to my very strenuous job in four days. Sounds pretty daffy to me. I hope and pray it gets better.

Post 14

I have an avulsion fracture in my ankle from wrestling (yes a girl wrestler) the 106-pound boy on my team and he was putting me in a cradle and something went snap. I kind of paused for a second to see if I felt pain but I kept wrestling.

Later on, I was running sprints and rolled it. I got up and sat by the wall later my coach and the guy came over and checked it out. By then my ankle had swelled two times it's normal size.

I went to the doctor the next day and he said it was a minor sprain and gave me a splint and crutches. I walked around like that for two weeks

then revisited the doctor and told me they had got it wrong and it was actually an avulsion fracture.

So I've been out of wrestling for over a month and I was wondering when I can rejoin. They said that the bone hasn't moved at all and to stay off it for three more weeks but I can walk around just fine. When can I get out of my boot?

Post 13

I got an avulsion fracture on my tibia. My thigh tendon ripped off almost the entire top of my shinbone under my knee. I had to get two screws to secure it. Four months of healing and I'm back to playing football.

Post 12

I got kicked by a horse about five years ago in my right hand index finger. It still to this day hurts when it's cold and sometimes cramps in a straight line. Any ideas?

Post 10

How long do these fractures take to heal? Mine is only a piece of bone breaking off my ring finger just over a month ago. It's still painful when i try to clench my fist or lift anything. I'm a little worried about returning to work, and for the finger to worsen again.

Post 9

My son has an avulsion fracture of the pelvis (iliac spine). He did it playing soccer. Just kicking the ball. He rested six weeks and on the 6th game it broke again. He rested it for six weeks (per the orthopedic) and in the second game back, it broke again.

He had an MRI, rested it for another five weeks, and yes, it broke a third time. It has now been eight weeks since the last break, and he has played four games. He went out to play a scrimmage with his friends and, yes, it broke again, for the fourth time now.

Post 8

I have an avulsion fracture in my wrist. It came as a result of a martial art gone wrong. the saddest thing is that I'm not very old at all. If you have a hard lump on you which is sore to press and is restricting movement and has been there for six weeks without improvement, I'd see your GP about it because it doesn't go away unfortunately.

Post 7

i suffered an avulsion fracture during a football match when a guy stamped on my foot. I spent four weeks in plaster and crutches another four weeks with crutches and doing therapy. I started training but when i do the leg extension exercise, the side of the knee responds. Can someone explain? thanks.

Post 6

to anon35069, I'm in the same situation. I run track, and just while sprinting in my 400 race, i got an avulsion fracture on the left iliac wing of my pelvis. I'm going on four weeks now for crutches. i just want to get back out and train again, more than most people could believe. except for you. you know my pain.

Post 5

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers just got an avulsion fracture on the index finger of his right hand. He got taped up and returned to the game.

Post 4

My mom was just taken to the ER last night and she was told that she has a severely sprained ankle and an avulsion fracture. She has been diagnosed with osteoporosis a few years back and we were wondering what affect this will have on her foot if any. I know with osteoporosis that bones take longer to heal.

Post 3

i had an avulsion fracture of my pelvis. i got off my crutches after four weeks then i felt a really bad pain in my side, different from the first, so i went to the ER and was told i had r.s.d. -- a rare nerve condition that took one year to correct and i still have lots of pain in that side after one year!

Post 2

I have an avulsion fracture of my pelvis, a piece 7cm by 1cm was displaced 1-1.5cm. I was told it would take 4-6 weeks to reattach itself and another month or so of rehab and training to regain my muscle strength and flexibility lost from being on crutches for a month and to try and prevent this from reoccurring.

Anyone have a similar case, how long until you could return fully to sports, I play high level ice hockey, field hockey and ringette. All as goalie, I injured myself during field hockey making a save.

Post 1

I have a small avulsion fracture in my wrist, and I guess that the small piece of bone that was torn of the main bone would never be back in place, so that means that the ligament that is connected to that small piece of bone would never reconnect to the main bone?

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