Generally speaking, an avulsion refers to a tearing away. This term is used to describe a disruption of the course of a river from its riverbed or an amputation by a tearing away of the limb. Most commonly, an avulsion refers to a type of fracture. What is an avulsion fracture?
With an avulsion fracture, the bone is damaged from a ligament or tendon being pulled from the bone. If a ligament becomes sprained, the pull on the ligament may have enough force to pull a piece of the bone where the ligament attached to the bone. Avulsion fractures are most common in the pelvis. Children are more susceptible to avulsion fractures than adults especially of avulsion fractures occurring at a growth plate.
The small piece of bone from an avulsion fracture usually does not change how the ligament or tendon injury would be treated. In most cases, the sprain is treated as it normally would be without consideration of the bone fragment. The tiny bone fracture rarely interferes with healing. Usually, the sprain and avulsion fracture heal with normal treatment of the sprain.
If the avulsion fracture occurs at the site of a growth plate in a child, the injury is given special care. The child may need to see an orthopedic specialist. The growth plate may require surgery to be realigned properly. If a growth plate becomes misaligned, the child can suffer from poor skeletal growth of that area. The age of the child may affect how a growth plate injury is treated.
An avulsion fracture of the pelvis is often seen with athletes. The pelvis is prone to avulsion fractures since the pelvis anchors many muscles of the legs. For example, a hamstring injury can pull on the site where the hamstring attaches to the bottom of the pelvis. The person with an avulsion fracture of the pelvis does not usually require surgery unless the bone fragment has been pulled away from the area of the fracture.
Most avulsion fractures heal with rest and limited pressure on the injury. The person may need to use crutches to reduce pressure on the fracture. It is often recommended for people to apply ice packs to the area for fifteen to twenty minute periods immediately after the injury. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be used. Athletes can help prevent avulsion fractures by doing proper warm up exercises before participating in the sport or other physical activity.