A Jones fracture is a common fracture involving the base of the 5th metatarsal bone. This long bone, located on the mid-portion of the outer side of the foot, is very mobile, and fractures to this bone tend to be unsteady. A Jones fracture describes a very specific kind of fracture to this bone, as there are several different 5th metatarsal fracture patterns possible. In a true Jones fracture, a break occurs across the bone in an area past where the bone sticks out along the side of the foot (on the other end of the bone from where the base of the little toe sits). It can be at an angle, or straight across. Sometimes the fracture can even cause the bone to shift in position.
The fracture usually forms as a result of the foot rotating inward suddenly while the base of this bone remains fixed. This type of injury can be seen with ankle sprains, stepping off of a curb awkwardly, sports injuries, and any other injury that causes a forced twisting of the foot.
Symptoms of a Jones fracture include pain, swelling, and bruising to the outside of the foot, as well as an inability to comfortably bear weight or walk with any weight on that side of the foot. The pain can range from a sharp, knife-like pain to a general aching or throbbing. The bone may also feel unstable at that area, like it is moving a little.
Treatment for Jones fractures can vary depending on one's activity level and the general stability of the fracture pieces themselves. Since this fracture site has a poorer blood supply than elsewhere in the bone, it has a higher likelihood of not healing, or at least taking a much longer time to heal than other metatarsal fractures. At the very least, the foot needs to be immobilized in a pneumatic walking boot or a cast, along with nonweightbearing restrictions using crutches to assist in moving about for 6-8 weeks. If the fracture has moved the bone out of proper position, then surgery is needed to restore proper position and hardware like screws are used to maintain the bone in place during the healing process. Athletes who suffer this injury often elect for surgical treatment regardless of whether the fragments have moved, as this often leads to a shorter healing time and a quicker return to activity.