What is a Jones Fracture and How is it Healed?

Jones fractures are becoming a very common athletic injury. When professional athletes in particular suffer this kind of injury, they tend to get a lot of media attention. Why? Because the injury is often tricky to diagnose, which means that, by the time it's discovered, you may already  have been completely sidelined. So, do I have your attention now? If so, read on to learn more about this pesky injury!

What is a Jones Fracture? A Jones Fracture occurs when there is a break in the fifth metatarsal bone of your foot.

A Jones fracture is a broken bone in the midsection of the fifth metatarsal bone of the foot, at the base near the little toe. It can cause pain and swelling if not treated.

Other Jones fracture symptoms include: 

  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness on the outside of the foot
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bruising

Because symptoms of a Jones fracture are quite similar to that of a sprained foot, the injury can be difficult to spot early on.

Unfortunately, early diagnosis is super-important with Jones fractures, because the area of the Jones fracture has a very small blood supply, meaning the injury takes much longer to heal and may even need to be surgically repaired. If not properly diagnosed and treated in a prompt time-frame, a Jones fracture can result in a non-union (the permanent failure of a bone to heal.)

Typically, a Jones fracture will require surgical treatment, not just casting. During that surgery, a screw is placed in the foot at the site of the fracture, to help stabilize the surrounding area, reducing down time and, hopefully, making re-injury less likely. Following surgery, athletes will typically be out of commission for 6-8 weeks, but with tricky sports injuries like this, best guesses are often wrong.

New Treatment Options for Jones Fractures

When surgery and immobilization doesn't work, some individuals will attempt to inject bone marrow  to the sight of the fracture, hopefully stimulating new bone growth in the area.

Jones fractures are notoriously difficult to heal due to the limited blood flow in that area of the foot (it occurs at the base of the bone, beside the ankle, that extends along the outside of the foot and connects to the baby toe.) With the injection of a bone marrow concentrate rich in stem cells, doctors can stimulate new bone growth in a less-invasive form than a bone-graft surgery.

Of course, even with innovative treatments, the healing process from Jones fractures can be long, drawn out and frustrating. Since there are so many unavoidable challenges associated with repairing a Jones fracture (like poor blood flow to the area, which inhibits the body’s natural ability to heal) it is of utmost importance to work with an expert foot surgeon when trying to overcome this injury.

Dr. Andrew Schneider has years of experience treating Jones fractures and other broken bones in the feet, toes and ankles. Before you go under the knife to repair your Jones fracture, schedule an appointment at Tanglewood Foot Specialists for a valuable second opinion.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.