A Jones Fracture:
How Serious Is It?
A Jones fracture, or fracture of the 5th metatarsal base, is not a very
common sports injury. However, even despite its low
prevealence, it can happen, and can sometimes cause major problems with
recovery. Seventy five percent heal normally, but the other twenty five
require surgical intervention. Read on to learn more about this unique
What is a Jones Fracture?
put, a fracture is a break in a bone. They can be small, large,
hairline, or compound. Broken bones and fractured bones are the same
thing, just different names.
A Jones fracture is a
specific type of
fracture that occurs at the base of the 5th metatarsal. Where is the
base of the 5th metatarsal? Run your hand along the oustide of your
foot, starting at the pinky toe. As you move closer to your heel, you
will feel the end of the 5th metatarsal sort of sticking out along the
edge. This is where a Jones fracture occurs. I have circled the base of
the 5th metatarsal in the picture on the right.
Learn more about Fractures
, and difficulty walking
are all common symptoms of a
Jones fracture. Also, some type of twisting mechanism, or a blow to the
foot. While a broken bone can be painful, this type of fracture can
also be confused with a sprain, and may be overlooked. As with any
injury, if you have significant pain, swelling, or dysfunction, you
should see your physician for an evaluation.
Jones fractures are usually caused by a twisting of the foot. It can be
associated with an ankle sprain, or the same type of motion that causes
an ankle sprain...rolling over the outside of the ankle. As with any
type of fracture, any force that is of sufficient force can break the
bone. So, being hit on the foot, or stepped on by a 300 pound lineman
can also cause a fracture.
Is it Serious?
Well, yes and no. Fractures must be treated by a physician. You need to
have an X-ray to determine where it is, and if it is displaced.
Depending on the position of the bones, it may be able to be treated
with a cast. However, if it is angled, or the bones are not aligned, it
may require surgery. Only your physician can determine this. Most Jones
fractures can be treated with a cast and crutches for 6-8 weeks.
Unfortunately, there are some possible complications...
There is a Watershed in Your Foot?
Not an actual watershed (come to think of it, I am not sure I know what
a watershed is). Watershed is a term used by physicians and medical
professionals to describe an area of low blood supply. The base of the
5th metatarsal happens to be one of these areas.
body needs blood
supply in order to heal. Blood carries all of the needed materials to
repair the injured area. And so, when there isn't much supply, the
healing tends to take longer, or not occur at all. This specific place
on the 5th metatarsal may not have good blood supply, and so the two
bone ends may not heal correctly.
The bad part is
that you may not know
if it is going to heal right for several weeks. And that slows down the
recovery time. So what happens if it doesn't heal?
Again, most fractures of the 5th metatarsal base will heal correctly
with just a cast and crutches. You won't be able to put weight on the
leg, and will not be able to move the foot for several weeks, usually
6-8. Your doctor will take X-rays periodically to monitor the fractures
healing. And as long as it is healing, all is well.
When the bone fails to heal, it may require surgery
to put the ends back together. This usually involves placing a small
screw into the bone, pulling the ends back together.
will have to go through the cast and crutches routine for 6-8 weeks,
and then gradually return to activities. You may also need
rehabilitation after your cast is removed.
Sometimes, if the bone ends are not aligned,
surgery may be done immediately. This is especially true if the
fracture is severly displaced, or if it is angled along the bone.
Returning to Play
Everyone wants to know when they can get back into the game and off the
sidelines. For most fractures, it takes 6 weeks to completely heal, and
then another 2-3 weeks to get muscle strength and range of motion back.
After a Jones fracture, this timeline may be a
little longer, because
of the watershed area and the slower healing rate due to low blood
supply. Age can also play a role in healing times, as younger bones
tend to heal a little faster.
Jones fractures can be overlooked if you don't know the symptoms. If
you have pain, swelling, or difficulty walking, see your physician for
an evaluation. It is imperitive that this type of fracture be cared for
well because of the possible complications. If in doubt, get it looked
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