Nothing is worse than stepping or twisting wrong and hearing and feeling a crack coming from your foot. In these situations, you pretty much know that you broke your foot. My name is Dr. Andrew Schneider, and I'm a podiatrist in Houston, Texas. Any broken bone is serious. But when you're dealing with a bone in your foot, which is your base of support, it takes on additional urgency.
No one expects to break their foot. No one has ever thought "You know what I want to do today...?" It just happens. There's no shortage of ways that you can break your foot. You can twist your foot, step off a curb wrong,step into a hole, kick a ball, jump off a chair or a ladder, and so many more ways. I don't recommend trying them out. Sometimes it's the pressure on the metatarsal bone that can cause it to snap. It could break in one place or multiple places. The break can occur from the pull of a soft tissue structures, such as a tendon. The tendon pulls on the bone and that causes it to break.
When a bone breaks due to trauma, it can stay in good position and only require immobilization to heal. Other times the fracture may be too severe or displaced for it to heal properly on its own. In these cases, surgical reduction of the break is necessary. The bone is realigned into good anatomical position. Screws and plates are then used to maintain the correction.
There is a fracture that's particularly difficult to heal. It's a fracture of the base of the 5th metatarsal, commonly known as a Jones fracture. It typically occurs when you twist your ankle. Wait a second! If you twist your ankle, how does a bone in your foot become broken? Well, there's a strong tendon called the Peroneal Tendon that travels down the outside of the ankle and attaches to the 5th metatarsal base. When you twist your ankle, that tendon pulls on the bone and causes it to break. The reason that this is a tough fracture to heal is because that section of the metatarsal doesn't have good blood flow to it. And this slows the healing process.
For this and other reasons, it is very common to treat a Jones fracture surgically, even if it's in good position. In most cases, you need to stay off your foot while the bone heals. This is the case whether or not surgical treatment is necessary. Crutches can be used to accomplish this. More recently, my patients are choosing to use a scooter where you rest on your knee and keep the foot suspended. This is much easier and a more comfortable way to keep your foot from bearing weight.