A Jones fracture, named for an early 20th-century physician who reported on his own injury, is an injury that occurs in the metatarsal bone on the outside of your foot, in the area of the pinkie toe.
These fractures are very common in athletes, particularly basketball and football players. People with high arched feet are more susceptible to Jones fractures than people with flatter feet.
Anatomy of a Jones Fracture
A Jones fracture occurs in the fifth metatarsal bone, located on the outside of the foot. The metatarsals are the bones that connect the ankle to the toes. The fifth metatarsal is slightly different from the other metatarsals, as it bulges at the base, while the other metatarsals do not.
This fracture is typically a transverse fracture, meaning it occurs what we would think of as horizontally, perpendicular to the long axis of the bone.
This fracture is typically located in a part of the bone that is difficult to heal. It most often occurs in a junction of the bone, where the bone transitions from dense to spongy. Because of the limited blood flow to this area, healing a Jones fracture can be a long and arduous process.
Causes of a Jones Fracture
A Jones fracture can either result from overuse of the fifth metatarsal area, or from trauma to the area. If they occur as a result of trauma, the injury is usually an inversion-type sprain, where the foot is twisted inward towards the other foot. This is the same type of injury that can result in an ankle fracture.
Jones fractures caused by overuse occur when repeated pressure is placed on the outer edge of the foot. This is why people with high arches are more susceptible to these fractures, as more pressure is placed on the outside of the foot.
Symptoms of a Jones Fracture
A Jones fracture will have many of the same symptoms as other types of fractures. A person may or may not realize a fracture has occurred immediately; if the injury is a result of overuse or repeated stress on the bones, the symptoms may come to light more gradually.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling on the outside of the foot at the base of the little toe
- Problems walking
Diagnosis of a Jones Fracture
Your doctor will be able to determine if you have a Jones fracture or some other type of injury to the metatarsal. They will conduct a physical examination by pressing areas of the foot to assess the location of the pain.
Your doctor will also question you about when and how your pain started. X-rays and other imaging scans may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Getting the diagnosis correct is absolutely essential, as the precise nature of the diagnosis heavily affects treatment and management.
Treatment of a Jones Fracture
The treatment of a Jones fracture depends mostly on the severity of the fracture itself. There are several methods you can employ to manage the pain and begin treating the injury, even before seeing a doctor.
For instance, you can use the RICE method to reduce pain and swelling. The RICE method involves:
- Resting the injury
- Icing painful or swollen areas
- Compressing the affected area with an elastic wrapping
- Elevating the injured foot above the level of the heart
This can help manage your pain and prevent the fracture from worsening while you await treatment.
If at all possible, treatment will be nonsurgical.
You will likely need to wear a cast or walking boot for 6 to 8 weeks to allow the Jones fracture time to heal. Because of the location of the fracture, it can sometimes be difficult to heal. The risk of re-injury is relatively high, so your doctor will be able to advise you on recovery time for your specific injury.
When athletes suffer a Jones fracture, the recommended treatment is usually surgery. During surgery, a small incision will be made, and a screw, rod, or plate will be inserted through the site of the fracture, squeezing the ends of the fracture together.
Occasionally, a bone graft may be necessary, if the person has experienced repeated fractures.
Recovering from a Jones Fracture
With nonsurgical treatment, a Jones Fracture may take up to 12 weeks to heal, though the average recovery time is more like 6 to 8 weeks.
With a surgical approach, a person who has suffered a Jones fracture can expect a return to all activities in about 4 months. A doctor will likely recommend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the foot during this time. If the fracture required bone grafting during treatment, recovery time could be significantly longer, sometimes taking up to 6 or 8 months.
At SPORT, we will identify the source of your pain and then utilize state-of-the-art therapeutic techniques that focus on restoring your range of motion.
Depending on the specific condition and its severity, these treatment options may include physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, slings and supports, cortisone shots, or surgery.
If you have an acute or chronic foot or ankle injury that needs medical attention, call SPORT at (469) 200-2832 to arrange a consultation or you can request one online. Hurt today? We can arrange a same-day urgent care visit to ensure you get fast, effective relief.