Can a Jones Fracture Heal Without Surgery?

Reviewed on 2/11/2022

Foot X-rays showing a Jones fracture
Usually a Jones fracture can heal without the need for surgery. Non-surgical treatment for a Jones fracture includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), immobilization (cast, boot, stiff-soled shoe, crutches), and bone stimulation. After surgery, physical therapy and further surgeries may be needed.

The fifth metatarsal is the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe. A Jones fracture is a break in the fifth metatarsal, in a small area that has less blood flow and is thus more prone to problems in healing. 

Jones fractures commonly occur due to twisting forces on the foot. A Jones fracture can be caused by: 

When the injury first occurs, use the RICE method: 

  • Rest: keep weight off the foot
  • Ice: to decrease pain, swelling, and redness
    • If an injury is iced immediately, it may prevent some inflammation
    • Use an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel
    • Apply crushed ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, several times daily
  • Compression: to prevent inflammation
    • Use elastic wraps such as Ace bandages
    • Do not wrap too tightly
  • Elevation: propped up the affected leg to help reduce fluid buildup in the injured tissue
    • Try to raise the foot above the level of the heart

Most of the time, surgery is not needed for a Jones fracture. Non-surgical treatment includes: 

  • Immobilization
    • Cast
    • Walking boot 
    • Stiff-soled shoe
    • Crutches to reduce weight on the injured foot
  • Bone stimulation
    • A pain-free external device that helps speed healing of some fractures

If the bone is displaced, there are multiple breaks, or the fracture does not heal properly, surgery may be needed. In addition, high performance athletes who need to get back to their sport quickly may choose to have surgery. Either way, recovery from a Jones fracture takes about eight weeks, with or without surgery. 

Surgery may involve: 

  • Insertion of a screw to stabilize the fracture while it heals
  • A bone graft, to help stimulate new bone growth

Physical therapy may be needed to regain motion and strength in the foot after the fracture heals.

Jones fractures often recur, so a second surgery may be needed. 

What Are Symptoms of a Jones (5th Metatarsal) Fracture?

Symptoms of a Jones fracture include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the outside of the foot
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty walking or weight bearing on the affected foot
  • Bruising

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Reviewed on 2/11/2022
Image Source: iStock Images,to%20treat%20than%20avulsion%20fractures.,least%20six%20to%20eight%20weeks.