The Jones fracture is a foot fracture at the base of the 5th metatarsal. This is the bone that is in the middle on the outside of the foot and connects to the pinky toe. What is the history behind its name? We call it a Jones fracture, because it is Sir Dr. Robert Jones who first described this fracture in 1902 after he injured himself while dancing. This is a typical way in which someone may get a Jones fracture. One can get a Jones fracture while dancing or doing sports and twisting one’s foot in inversion (i.e., turning your foot and ankle in) or if you get a trauma directly on the base of your 5th metatarsal (which is not as common a way to fracture this bone). I think it is important to discuss this type of injury, because it is actually very common and quite a bit different from other types of foot fractures. In fact, the management of this fracture can be tricky, because the specific site where the fracture occurs is known to have poor circulation and blood flow. Since there is less blood flow at this specific spot, the healing process can be more challenging and usually takes longer to heal. Another reason this fracture is difficult to heal is because a muscle tendon that attaches at the base of the 5th metatarsal is always pulling this bone apart.
For that reason, if you injure yourself, don’t wait to seek professional evaluation from your foot doctor. This type of injury, like any other fracture, can cause severe pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty walking. To make a clear diagnosis, your podiatrist will take X-rays, and his/her findings will guide the management of your condition.
If the fracture is not displaced or displaced less than 1-2 mm, you will be immobilized in a cast and advised not to put weight on your foot for 6 to 8 weeks. If it is displaced or if you are a high level athlete, a surgical management may be recommended with fixation of the bone with a screw or a metal wire. The healing time will be at least 6 weeks in a cast, if not more, with foot swelling and discomfort possible for several months afterwards. On average, athletes tend to go back to their previous level of activities after about 13 weeks. In some instances, you might need a device called a bone stimulator to help the healing process. Increasing your intake of vitamin D and calcium is also beneficial to help healing. Physical therapy may also be recommended after the cast is removed. The main focus of physical therapy is to overcome the effects of being immobilized, such as stiffness and weakness, and to help put proper stress on your healing bone. The main effects of being immobilized are muscle and bone weakness and muscle atrophy. Physical therapy will speed up recovery, restore muscle function, and promote early healing.
In conclusion, don’t wait to consult a health professional if you injure yourself. The quicker we start managing your condition, the quicker you’ll be back on your feet!