How Long Does It Take to Recover from an Avulsion Fracture?

Reviewed on 4/7/2022

Senior man holding his elbow in pain
Recovery time from an avulsion fracture can range from several weeks to several months.

An avulsion fracture occurs when a bone fragment is pulled away from its main bone by soft tissue such as ligaments or tendons attached to it. Avulsion fractures can occur in any area where soft tissue is attached to bone. 

Bones commonly affected by avulsion fractures include: 

  • Fingers
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Pelvis 
  • Hips
  • Spine 

Recovery time from an avulsion fracture can range from several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and how promptly the injury is diagnosed and treated.

What Are Symptoms of an Avulsion Fracture?

Symptoms of an avulsion fracture are similar to other types of bone fractures and may include: 

  • Intense pain 
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding 
  • Numbness and tingling 
  • Difficulty walking or moving a limb 
  • A popping or cracking sound when the injury occurs

Symptoms tend to be most pronounced near the broken bone, but patients may also feel pain or other symptoms in nearby areas such as joints near the bone that is broken.

What Causes an Avulsion Fracture?

The most common cause of an avulsion fracture is acute trauma, such as: 

  • Sports-related trauma 
    • Direct hit to the bone, such as in contact sports like football or boxing
    • Kicking
    • Jumping
    • Falling on an outstretched hand
    • Long-term impact from forces like running or other exercise 
  • Accidents 
    • Motor vehicle accidents 
    • Falling from a height 

Avulsion fractures may also be caused by surgery or a disease process. 

How Is an Avulsion Fracture Diagnosed?

Avulsion fractures are diagnosed with a patient history and a physical examination of the injured area, along with imaging tests such as: 

What Is the Treatment for an Avulsion Fracture?

Treatment for an avulsion fracture includes: 

  • First aid when the injury occurs 
    • Stop the activity that causes the injury
    • Use a splint or sling to immobilize the bone
    • Use the RICE method: 
      • Rest
        • Keep weight off the injured area
      • Ice
        • If an injury is iced immediately, it may prevent some inflammation
        • Apply crushed ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, several times daily
      • Compression: to prevent inflammation
        • Use elastic wraps such as Ace bandages
        • Do not wrap too tightly
      • Elevation
        • Prop up the affected area above the level of the heart to help reduce fluid buildup in the injured tissue
  • Medical treatment 
    • Rest
      • Stay off of the injury while it heals
      • Cast or splint to keep the bone from moving 
      • Crutches
    • Medication 
    • Immobilization
      • Cast 
      • Walking boot 
      • Stiff-soled shoe 
    • Exercise/physical therapy 
      • Range of motion
      • Strengthening
      • Gait training
      • Proprioceptive recovery
    • Surgery 
      • Open reduction to realign the ones
      • Internal fixation which uses metal hardware such as pins, plates, screws, or rods to permanently align the bones

QUESTION

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Reviewed on 4/7/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559168/

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/medical-specialties/orthopedics-sports-medicine/conditions/avulsion-fracture/