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First Aid Management: Avulsion Fracture

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An avulsion fracture occurs when a portion of a bone, along with a tendon, ligament, or joint capsule is detached from the main mass of the bone. This results from the pulling away of the tendon (attaches muscle to bone), ligament (connects bones to other bones), or joint capsule (encloses a joint – where the bones connect), that is usually caused by physical trauma. It can occur in the ligament from the application forces that are external to the body, such as a pull or a fall. On the other hand, this can occur at the tendon from a muscular contraction that is of greater force than the force keeping the bones together. Oftentimes, avulsion fractures involve the tendons. Avulsion fracture is most common in athletes and in children rather than adults. Ankle sprain is a common example of an avulsion fracture.

Causes of Avulsion Fracture

There are many possible causes of an avulsion fracture. These include:

Signs and Symptoms of Avulsion Fracture

It may not be easy to determine if the fracture is an avulsion fracture since different fractures may have similar signs and symptoms.  Thus, the following are the signs and symptoms of an avulsion fracture and of different fractures:

  • Pain, tenderness and swelling at the attachment location of the muscles
  • Difficulty moving the affected area

First Aid Management of Avulsion Fracture

Severe cases of avulsion fracture may require surgery to reunite the bone fragment and main bone that are too far apart to fuse naturally. However, most of avulsion fractures can heal very well without the need of surgery, although it is generally recommended to seek medical advice for the best treatment for the individual’s particular injury. The following may be done in cases of an avulsion fracture to encourage healing of the bone:

  • Rest the affected area. Do not do any strenuous physical activity that may exacerbate the injury.
  • Ice the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours to relieve swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as it may cause further damage. Instead, wrap the ice in a towel or any piece of cloth. Do not fall asleep with the ice left on the affected area.
  • Compress the affected area.
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, to reduce pain.
  • Perform controlled exercises that will stretch the tendon and promote healing of the bones.

An avulsion fracture is fracture that occurs when a portion of the bone is detached from the main bone mass, along with the tendon or ligament. To learn how to manage an avulsion fracture, enroll in First Aid Courses.

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