Avulsion fractures occurs when a ligament or tendon attached to a bone partially detaches, taking a bone fragment with it. These fractures usually happen due to a forceful muscle contraction. In children, avulsion fractures are common in areas of the bone made up of cartilage. These types of fractures are rarely complicated and easily treated unless there tendon or ligament damage accompanies the fracture. Treatments for avulsion fractures include rest and ice, immobilization and surgery.
Rest and Ice
The simplest treatment of avulsion fractures features ice and rest. Since many of these fractures heal on their own, The Mayo Clinic suggests icing the affected area and resting or avoiding activity that could aggravate the injury until the fracture heals. Avulsion fractures may still appear on x-rays, even after the injury repairs itself with this non-surgical option.
Avulsion fractures are sometimes successfully treated with cast immobilization if the injury is more severe. The fractured area receives a cast for a period of four to six weeks, combined with ice therapy. Ice should be applied for a period of 20 to 30 minutes every three to four hours during times of pain or swelling. X-rays indicate the success of immobilization in healing. If successful, physical therapy often follow immobilization of avulsion fractures in order to return the patient to full use of the affected area.
Severe avulsion fractures that involve ligament or tendon damage often necessitate surgical intervention, as well as fractures in unstable areas. Surgery may include placement of pins, wires, rods, screws or plates to hold the bones together. Tendon and ligament repair often involves sewing torn ends together, although more severe cases may require grafts to repair the injury.
As with any surgery, health risks exist. Patients run the chance of bleeding, infections, formation of scar tissue and rejection of implants. Cancer caused by implants constitutes a very small risk.