Is a Jones Fracture a Stress Fracture?

Reviewed on 2/11/2022

Foot X-rays showing a Jones fracture
A Jones fracture is a break in the fifth metatarsal, a bone of the foot. A Jones fracture can be a stress fracture, which is a small hairline break or crack in the bone that can happen over time from overuse or repetitive stress. It can also be an acute (sudden) break.

A Jones fracture can be a stress fracture (a small hairline break or crack in the bone that occurs over time from overuse or repetitive stress) or an acute (sudden) break.

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

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

What Causes a Jones Fracture?

  • Jones fractures are caused by overuse, repetitive stress, or injury (trauma) to the foot.
  • Jones fractures commonly occur due to twisting forces on the foot.

How Is a Jones Fracture Diagnosed?

A Jones fracture is diagnosed with a patient history including how the injury occurred or when the pain started, and a physical examination of the foot. 

  • X-rays are used to confirm a diagnosis, but a Jones fracture doesn’t always show up on initial X-rays, so additional imaging studies such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be needed.
  • A computerized tomography (CT) scan may be used to monitor how the fracture is healing. 

What Is the Treatment for a Jones Fracture?

Treatment for a Jones fracture starts with the RICE method when the injury first occurs: 

  • 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

Non-surgical treatment for a Jones fracture includes: 

  • Immobilization
    • Cast
    • Cast 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. Surgery may involve: 

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

Recovery from a Jones fracture takes about eight weeks with or without surgery. 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. 

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Reviewed on 2/11/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/fractures-of-the-fifth-metatarsal#:~:text=A%20Jones%20fracture%20can%20be,to%20treat%20than%20avulsion%20fractures.