The metatarsal bones are long bones in your feet. There are five metatarsal bones in each foot. The 5th metatarsal is the long bone that is located on the outside of the foot and connects to the small toe. Each metatarsal bone is made up of base (towards the ankle), shaft, neck and head (towards the toes). Fractures in the metatarsal bone are categorized based on their location. Jones fractures occur at the junction of the base and the shaft of the 5th metatarsal. They can either be a stress fracture (a small hairline break that occurs over time) or an acute (sudden) break. These fractures take a long time to heal and are not as common as other fractures of the 5th metatarsal.
Overuse, repetitive stress and trauma are the most common causes of Jones fractures. You may experience pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising over the outside area of the foot, and may also have difficulty in walking.
If you injure your fifth metatarsal bone, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history, and thoroughly examine your foot to determine the location of pain. X-rays and other additional imaging studies may be ordered to verify the diagnosis.
Initial treatment consists of rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE protocol) of the foot to control pain and swelling. A cast, cast boot, or stiff-soled shoe may be suggested to immobilize your foot. Crutches may be recommended to keep you from putting weight on your leg. Your doctor may perform bone stimulation, a technique that accelerates healing by using a pain free external device. This technique may be used if immobilization does not provide adequate healing.
Surgery is recommended if there are multiple fractures, displacement of fractured bones, or if the fracture fails to unite or heal. It includes placing a screw to stabilize the fractured bone and hold it securely in place while healing occurs. Bone graft may be used to stimulate a healing response.