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Julian Edelman is the most recent star athlete to be sidelined by a Jones fracture, but he is certainly not the first. Earlier in the NFL season, Dez Bryant underwent a single surgery to repair a similar injury and sat for 6 weeks before returning to the field. Kevin Durant, the 2013-14 NBA MVP, missed much of the 2014-15 NBA season and underwent three surgeries to repair the injury. The difference in recovery times for Bryant and Durant highlights the complexity of treating this injury as well as the nuances each individual encounters throughout their treatment.
A Jones fracture is a fracture to the long bone on the outside of the foot, the fifth metatarsal, that is caused by a sudden inward and downward twisting of the foot or direct force to the area. Patients experience pain to “the outside” of their foot with swelling and pain with walking.
These injuries can be diagnosed with a standard x-ray of the foot and are particularly difficult to treat as they occur in an area of the bone with limited blood supply. Adequate blood supply is essential for healing.
While 6-8 weeks of non-weight bearing is the typical method of treatment for most patients, surgery is usually preferred for high-level athletes. Surgery for this injury consists of introducing a single screw into the bone to hold the two fragments together so that they can heal. Even with surgery, it is approximately 6 weeks until return to activity can be expected. The most common complication that patients experience with this injury, as seen with Durant, is failure of the two bone fragments to heal. When this happens, regardless of the initial method of treatment, patients require surgery to repair the non-healing bone.
Disclaimer: The author has never evaluated, treated or reviewed the medical records of the individuals mentioned in this article. All statements and opinions are based on publicly available material released from the individual or their representatives.