A Jones fracture, named for the doctor who first described it, is an injury to the fifth metatarsal bone of the foot, the bone at the base of the small toe. This fracture most often occurs as the result of an ankle sprain or other foot injury where the foot turns inward (inversion injury), and not as a result of direct impact to the area. Repetitive stress may also cause a Jones fracture.
Because there is a limited blood supply in the area, and because a Jones fracture further interrupts blood flow, such a fracture may take longer to heal than other injuries. There is a possibility that there may be a non-union, or failure of the bone to heal, requiring surgical intervention.
Symptoms of a Jones Fracture
Patients with a Jones fracture typically experience pain on the middle and outside of their foot, along with swelling, bruising and difficulty walking. Because a Jones fracture frequently occurs in conjunction with another injury, it may go undetected. Because it may have difficulty healing, it is important that a correct diagnosis be made promptly.
Mild Jones fractures are normally immobilized with a cast, splint or walking boot for 6 to 8 weeks. Usually, patients use crutches to keep the injured foot from bearing any weight. Patients are given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to reduce pain and swelling. Once the cast is removed, patients require an additional 2 to 3 weeks of rehabilitation. As with other fractures, older patients usually take longer to heal than younger patients.
In more severe cases, where the bone is displaced by the fracture or does not heal properly, surgery is necessary to treat the fracture. Surgery is also frequently performed on professional athletes to shorten the healing process. Metal devices, such as plates or screws,are used in such operations to fixate the bone. Sometimes a bone graft or a substance that will stimulate bone growth is also used. After surgery, the foot is put in a cast to immobilize it and protect it during the healing process.