A Jones fracture is a break in the long bone, known as the fifth metatarsal, which is located along the outside of the foot. The five metatarsal bones make up the central part of the foot. The first metatarsal is connected to the base of the big toe and the fifth one is attached to the little toe. Although most of the body’s weight and pressure from movement is felt on the other side of the foot, in the big toe and first metatarsal area, it is the fifth metatarsal that most often sustains fractures.
Considering all that is asked of the foot, it is not surprising that broken bones are fairly common. In fact, of all the bone breaks or fractures experienced, one out of ten occur in the foot. It is the fifth metatarsal, the one connected to the little toe, that is most often broken. This is typically due to the pressure placed on this bone as a result of a direct blow or extreme twisting motion required when making sudden changes in direction.
The Jones fracture gets its name from Sir Robert Jones, a British surgeon who sustained this injury while dancing. Believing that he had ruptured his peroneus longus tendon, he had an x-ray taken to confirm his diagnosis. What he discovered was that the tendon was intact, but there was a fracture between the base and shaft of the fifth metatarsal. Jones published his findings in 1902, and the fracture continues to bear his name.
Types of Fifth Metatarsal Fractures
A lot of stress and pressure is focused on the outside of the foot when doing activities that involve extreme or repeated shifts in direction. This is why fractures in that area are so common, especially for athletes, dancers, and anyone participating in similar activities. The Jones fracture is one of the basic types of fracture that occurs in the fifth metatarsal. The other two types are:
Avulsion fracture – often associated with ankle sprains, this fracture affects the base of the bone and is the the most common type of fifth metatarsal fracture
Spiral or oblique shaft fracture – occurs when there is some sort of stress or trauma at the end of the bone near the toe, and is often referred to a Dancer’s fracture
The Jones fracture, which is considered to be the most serious of the three, refers to a break in a very specific part of the fifth metatarsal. This location is where the base of the bone connects to the shaft. The reason a fracture in this location is deemed more serious is that that particular part of the bone receives a diminished blood supply compared to other areas of the fifth metatarsal. This can increase the amount of time that it takes to heal, or, even worse, result in the injury not healing completely.
Symptoms of a Jones Fracture
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of a broken bone in the foot to avoid causing more damage. Symptoms of a Jones fracture include:
- Immediate pain along the outside of the foot, often described as sharp or stabbing
- Bruising or discoloration
- The area along the outside of the foot is typically extremely tender if touched
- Trying to stand or put any weight on the affected foot is painful, and walking is difficult.
- It is not uncommon for a Jones fracture to be mistaken for a sprained ankle. The symptoms are similar. The fracture is, of course, more serious, so when the symptoms do not lessen in a few days or if you feel there is any possibility that you may have broken a bone in your foot, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of a Jones Fracture
A Jones fracture can be caused by trauma that happens in an instant or develop over time due to overuse and repetitive stress.
If excess stress is consistently placed on the fifth metatarsal while walking, running, jumping, or other similar activities, a hairline fracture can slowly develop. Having a high arch can be a risk factor for this.
Trauma, such as a blow to the foot, or inward twisting causing the tendons and ligaments to put extreme pressure on the bone can cause a Jones fracture. Violent cutting motions made by athletes, off-balance landings of gymnasts, and twists and turns performed by dancers are frequently the cause of this type of fracture.
Treatment Options for a Jones Fracture
Treatment for a Jones factor will depend on the severity of the break and the lifestyle of the patient. Those who have the option and choose not to have surgery will typically immobilize the foot in a boot and use crutches for up to eight weeks.
The advantage of non-surgical treatment is avoiding the risks and discomfort associated with surgery. A disadvantage to this approach is that the healing process is longer, but an even more important factor to consider is that, due to the limited blood supply in that area, there will be the possibility that the fracture will not heal. Only 75 percent of these fractures heal after 8 weeks of crutches and no weight.
Those who are younger and anxious to return to an active lifestyle are often more likely to choose the surgical option. Surgery for a Jones fracture will typically include placing a screw through a mini incision to repair the bone. In more severe cases, a bone graft may also be required. Patients can typically then place weight in a boot a few days after surgery.
While all surgery carries risks that should be considered, the recovery time for a Jones fracture following surgery is much shorter than allowing the break to heal on its own and it is considered a more reliable method for healing.
Contact Dr. Christopher E. Hubbard Today
If you have been diagnosed with a Jones fracture and need the necessary treatment, turn to Dr. Hubbard. Dr. Hubbard is a knowledgeable orthopedic surgeon who will take the time to understand your condition and treat it based on your individual needs. Contact our office today to schedule your first appointment and discuss your options for treatment.