The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Ankle-tastic: Ankle Avulsion Fracture

Posted by on Sunday, June 17th, 2012


Ankles! So important to every step we take, yet so easy to really mess up. Today we are here to talk about one of those types of mess-ups:  ankle avulsion fractures.

Ankle what? I thought you’d say that, so let’s look at the unfamiliar word between our familiar friends “ankle” and “fractures.”

Definition of avulsion from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

a forcible separation or detachment: as

a : a tearing away of a body part accidentally or surgically
b : a sudden cutting off of land by flood, currents, or change in course of a body of water; especially : one separating land from one person’s property and joining it to another’s

Fun facts about avulsion: It was first used in 1622! It rhymes with compulsion! The word before it in the dictionary is avuncular!

So I’m guessing that this has something to do with something tearing away in the ankle. Brilliant! Avulsion fractures can happen anywhere in the body, but the ankle is one of the most common areas.

When you twist your ankle, you most likely will tear some of the ligaments, resulting in an ankle sprain. Sometimes, though, the twist can be so severe that the ligament pulls away a small section of the bone to which it is attached. Children are particularly vulnerable to avulsion fractures because some of their ligaments are attached to growth plates, which aren’t as solid as mature bone.

Oww, that sounds painful. Oh, yeah, it is.

But how do I know I don’t just have a sprained ankle? What are the symptoms of an avulsion fracture? If your ankle is very painful and swollen, perhaps with bruising, and it hurts when you try to put weight on it, then the injury is bad enough that you should have it checked out so you can have the right kind of treatment. A podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) will take some X-rays to determine whether it’s an avulsion fracture or bad sprain.

What happens if it is an avulsion fracture? In most cases, you can treat an avulsion fracture like an ankle sprain: rest, ice, compression, anti-inflammatories for pain (some people also recover by running races…yikes). If it’s severe, or if a child has suffered the injury, your podiatrist may put your ankle in a cast for 6-8 weeks, followed by rehab to help restore the full range of motion in your ankle.

With children, there is also concern that the growth plate might have been pulled out of place, which would then affect future growth of that bone. If the growth place is out of alignment, surgery may be necessary to correct its position and stabilize it.

Hopefully you’ll never have a need to amaze your podiatrist by spouting off fun facts about the word “avulsion” after you’ve been given a diagnosis of ankle avulsion fracture. If, however, you have an ankle or foot injury, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.




If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.