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A Jones fracture is a distinct type of fracture which involves the fifth metatarsal of the foot. This bone is the long bone which runs along the outside of the foot to connect with the small toe. People with this type of fracture are often not aware that a fracture has occurred, mistaking the pain and swelling for a simple sprain. This can be a problem, as they may exacerbate the fracture by not seeking attention for it in a timely fashion.
The Jones fracture, named for Sir Robert Jones, who described it in 1902 and mentioned that he incurred the injury while dancing, occurs at the base of the fifth metatarsal, right near the joint around the middle of the foot. This area of the bone has a reduced blood supply, which can complicate healing. In severe fractures, multiple pieces of bone may be present at the fracture site, and the bone may also be displaced. The fracture can be identified in an x-ray series which features views of the foot from the side and the top.
For a mild Jones fracture, casting may be enough. While the foot is in a cast, the patient must keep weight off it, by using crutches or a walking boot. Splinting can also be used. For more severe fractures and chronic fractures, surgery may be necessary. During surgery, a surgeon will clean around the area of the fracture, reposition the bone, pin the bone if necessary, and then cast the foot so that the bone will be protected while it heals.
A closely related injury is an avulsion injury to the fifth metatarsal bone, caused when a chip of bone is pulled away by strain from a tendon. Avulsion injuries can occur when the foot is sharply twisted, or when it sustains a blunt trauma. Since these conditions can also cause a Jones fracture, sometimes both are seen at the same time.
This fracture is also known as a dancer's fracture or simply as a fracture to the fifth metatarsal bone of the foot. Healing time for a Jones fracture varies, depending on the health of the patient and severity of the fracture. A young child may heal in just a few weeks, for example, while an older adult may experience a longer healing period. Sometimes the fracture also fails to knit when the foot is cast, in which case surgery may be needed to determine why the fracture is not healing properly.