Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Avulsion Fractures
Facebook Tweet Share

Main Content

Learning About Avulsion Fractures

What is an avulsion fracture?

An avulsion fracture is a type of broken bone. It occurs when an injury causes a ligament or tendon to break off (avulse) a small piece of a bone that it's attached to. The ligament or tendon also may be damaged.

This type of injury can happen in different parts of the body, such as the ankle, foot, arm, knee, hip, or pelvis.

X-rays are usually used to diagnose a fracture.

What can cause it?

An avulsion fracture can be caused by any activity that involves physical force. It can happen when you fall, kick, jump, or have to speed up or slow down very quickly. It may be caused by direct force, such as a hard tackle in football. Or it may be caused by indirect force, such as making a sudden turn in soccer or basketball.

What are the symptoms?

You may feel a pop and sudden pain when the fracture occurs. You will probably have some pain and swelling in the area of the fracture. Sometimes the area will be bruised.

Symptoms usually improve after the injury heals.

How is an avulsion fracture treated?

Small fractures are usually treated with ice and rest. You may need a splint or a cast. Follow the splint or cast care instructions your doctor gives you. If you have a splint, don't take it off unless your doctor tells you to. Follow your doctor's instructions about using ice and avoiding certain activities.

If the injury occurs in the leg or foot, you may need to use crutches or wear a special boot while it heals.

You may need surgery if the detached piece of bone is far enough from the rest of the bone that it won't heal on its own. Surgery may also be done to reattach a tendon or ligament if it is completely or mostly torn from the bone.

You can return to sports and other exercise after about 6 weeks to 6 months. How long it takes to recover depends on where the injury is, how serious it is, and how it is treated. It also depends on how soon you have full range of motion without pain. And it may depend on your age and whether you have other health problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter A747 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Avulsion Fractures".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.