A Jones fracture is a specially named fracture that involves a break in the base of the 5th metatarsal bone. This bone, located on the outside of the middle part of the foot, can fracture when the foot rotates inward, or when a force is applied to the bone directly. The base of this bone, which can be felt as it flares outward into the skin, can crack across its width. When this fracture occurs in a specific place just above the flare, it is referred to as a Jones fracture.
Jones fractures can occur commonly in athletes, but they can also be seen in those who severely twist their ankle and those who injure their feet at home. Jones fractures often bring a sharp pain to the outside of the foot, along with a cracking or popping sensation or even sound. The outside of the foot can become bruised, and swollen. When these occur with ankle sprains, the pain of the sprain may mask the pain in the metatarsal a little further down in the foot.
Jones fractures occur in an unstable part of the 5th metatarsal, which itself is unstable and has more mobility than other metatarsals. Some people can heal by immobilizing the foot in a cast and not bearing weight, which may take 2 months or more. However, many cases require surgery to stabilize the bone as it heals, and keep it in place during this process using screws or other surgical hardware. This is almost always performed in athletes so they can return to their sport quicker. Those that are too unhealthy for surgery have to undergo immobilization and a longer healing period, with the chance that it may not heal properly or heal out of place.