Since the NFL allowed its teams to conduct off-season training sessions (officially known as ‘Organized Team Activities or OTAs) we’ve been seeing football injuries earlier and earlier in the calendar year.
Just recently, the Dallas Cowboys announced that rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins (a third round pic for the team) suffered a broken foot during the team’s OTAs. As the fracture required surgical repair, he will now be sidelined for the next 10-12 weeks.
Apparently, Collins broke his fifth metatarsal (the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe) and had a screw inserted for stabilization. He also needed a bone graft to support the injured joint.
Two types of fractures tend to occur in the fifth metatarsal: Avulsion and Jones fractures (Collins appears to have suffered a Jones fracture):
In an avulsion fracture, a small piece of bone gets pulled off the rest of the bone by a tendon or ligament. This injury is usually caused by an ankle roll, and can easily be misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain.
Jones fractures are often difficult to heal as they occur in a small area of the fifth metatarsal that receives less blood flow. Whether incurred from an acute injury or trauma or over time as a stress fracture, Jones fractures are harder to treat and heal than avulsion fractures.
Symptoms of both injuries include:
- Pain, swelling, and tenderness on the outside of the foot
- Difficulty walking
While Jones fractures aren’t all that common in the general population, they occur quite frequently among athletes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a fifth metatarsal fracture, you should schedule an immediate appointment with your sports podiatrist.