Symptoms

An avulsion fracture has symptoms that are similar to bone breaks in other parts of the body. These symptoms can include:
  • Swelling, bruising, or bleeding 
  • Intense pain 
  • Numbness and tingling 
  • Difficulty walking or moving a limb 

Usually, these symptoms will be worst near the bone that is broken, but you might also feel pain or other symptoms in nearby areas of the body (for instance, joints near the bone that is broken). 

When to See a Doctor

Most avulsion fractures aren’t medical emergencies, but they are still a serious medical condition. See a healthcare provider if you have pain, swelling, numbness, or difficulty moving a limb. If you don’t get medical attention, your broken bone might take longer to heal or it might not heal in the right way. Even if your bone isn’t broken, similar problems like dislocations or sprained joints can cause serious problems if they aren’t treated.

Causes

There are many causes for a bone fracture. Anything that puts too much stress on a bone can cause a fracture. Common causes include: 

  • Falling from a height (out of a window, off of a tree) 
  • Car accidents 
  • A direct hit to the bone (common in contact sports like football) 
  • Long-term impact from forces like running or other forms of exercise 

The most common types of avulsion fracture come from putting too much stress on the bones in the ankle, hip, or elbow, especially during sports or exercise. Avulsion fractures are more common in children or if your bones are already weakened or under pressure from training, repetitive tasks, or other intense physical activity. 

Diagnosis & Tests, Treatments, & Prevention

Diagnosis & Tests

If your doctor thinks that you have an avulsion fracture, they will do a physical exam and ask you questions. Some of these questions can include: 

  • What are your symptoms? How long have you had them? 
  • What were you doing when the symptoms started? 
  • Is there anything that makes them better or worse? 
  • Are you having trouble moving your joints? 

Your doctor will also look at and press on the part of your body that might be injured. 

Sometimes, the exam will be enough to diagnose your avulsion fracture, but your doctor might want to do imaging tests like x-rays to look at the injured area more closely and decide on the best treatment for you. An x-ray can also show that you have a broken bone, and not a similar problem like a sprain or dislocation. 

If your doctor thinks that your avulsion fracture might require surgery, they might refer you to a foot and ankle surgeon who will do additional tests and can start more treatment for your injury.