What Is It?
A Jones fracture is a special type of stress fracture (see “Stress Fractures” for detailed information on what defines a stress fracture) that appears at the base of the fifth metatarsal (the long bone on the outside aspect of the foot that connects to the big toe). Patients with Jones fractures will feel pain on the far right of their midfoot. Like with any other stress fracture, patients who are highly active or progress to increased physical activity too rapidly are more likely to obtain a Jones fracture. However, Jones fractures can also occur acutely, as in a sudden break due to injury. What makes Jones fractures stand out is the fact that the break is located in an area where blood supply is limited, making them difficult to heal. Adequate blood supply is essential for healing, since blood supply carries nutrients to the bone that are necessary for healing. Without sufficient blood supply, the fracture risks becoming a nonunion (the bone fails to join together and heal) or it might require an extended period of time to heal. Though a Jones fracture can potentially heal on it’s own, surgical intervention is often necessary.
Individuals who have high arches in their feet have an increased likelihood of developing a Jones fraction since there is more loading on that side of the foot (the side of the foot facing away from the body). Conservative treatments such as protective footwear and being non-weight bearing can allow a Jones fracture to heal, but patients run the risk of re-fracture, especially if they have high arches or repeat the activity that developed the fracture in the first place (such as dancing or running). Surgery allows an individual to recover faster (since it forces the two pieces of bone together) and helps to prevent the risk of re-fracture. Typically, the bone is brought together and fixed in place with a screw. Drilling at the site of injury also stimulates blood flow which brings the needed nutrients to the fracture site. Most times athletes choose to undergo surgery to get them active again sooner, rather than taking the time for the fracture to heal on it’s own. The screw can be removed later on if it becomes a discomfort to the patient. This is left up to the patient and the discretion of the surgeon. Realignment surgery is also an option to help correct their high arches and prevent re-fracture. Custom shoe orthotics, such as inserts, can help to balance out the high arches and alleviate the added stress to the medial side of the foot. Recovery is usually 6 to 8 weeks for a Jones fracture, but those who choose to recover more conservatively might take a while longer to heal. Patients will be expected to be non-weight bearing during the healing process and will progress to weight bearing only when advised by the surgeon.
Disclaimer: The information compiled in this guide was taken from sources made available to the public and from consultation with orthopedic surgeons. We are not medical professionals and do not regard ourselves as experts. Always listen to the instructions given by your doctor first and foremost. However, we encourage patient education and recommend that you research your injury further. Your medical institution website may have further useful information. Otherwise please check our list sources for more detailed reading.