Sunday, June 16, 2024
Forefoot Injuries INJURIES

Jones Fracture Diagnosis: How to Identify This Common Foot Injury

A Jones fracture in the foot is a fracture of the fifth metatarsal base. The fifth metatarsal bone is the long bone on the outside of the foot. When you sustain a Jones fracture, it can be incredibly painful. It can make walking difficult. It’s important to get the fracture properly diagnosed and treated.

Jones fractures are diagnosed with a combination of a physical exam and imaging tests.

How Are Jones Fractures Diagnosed?

If you suspect that you may have sustained a Jones fracture, it’s important to contact a local foot doctor or go to the emergency room.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam first and look for any signs of swelling and tenderness in the foot.

Your doctor will lightly press on the fifth metatarsal base to identify the area of pain. Your doctor will be checking for any lacerations in the skin that may have occurred during the time of the injury.

They will also check for any limited-range of motion in the foot. Having metatarsal fractures can limit foot range of motion.

If your doctor suspects that there is a fracture, he/she will order imaging tests to confirm this.

What Tests Are Needed to Diagnose Jones Fractures?

X-Ray of the Foot

Radiographs are a non-invasive way to identify a metatarsal Jones fracture. Foot radiographs can be done at your foot doctor’s office or in the emergency department. An x-ray will show whether there is a break in the bone. 

The x-ray can also determine whether the Jones fracture is nondisplaced or displaced. A non-displaced fracture is when the broken bone fragments are aligned. 

A displaced fracture is when the broken bone is out of place and not lined up properly. 

X-rays can also help identify whether the Jones fracture is comminuted. A comminuted fracture is when your bone breaks into more than two pieces.

However, in the case of a Jones stress fracture, the fracture will not be visible on the x-ray for 3 weeks. This is because it takes time for the bone to show signs of damage, and the fracture can only be seen after the bone has begun to heal and the fracture has had time to become visible.

MRI of the Foot

If the fracture is not immediately visible on an x-ray, your doctor may order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test (MRI). An MRI can provide a detailed view of the bone, making it easier to identify a Jones fracture. Also, an MRI can identify if there was any damage to the soft tissues, tendons, and ligaments during the time of injury. 

CT Scan of the Foot

A Computed Tomography scan (CT scan) may be used to diagnose a Jones fracture. A CT scan can identify the fracture, as well as the severity of the fracture. In addition, it will provide detailed pictures of the joint surface adjacent to the fracture. 

CT scans are also helpful in identifying the presence of other fractures that you may have sustained during the injury. In general, CT scans are more accurate than x-rays for detecting multiple small fractures. 

How Can Imaging Help Determine Whether You May Need Jones Fracture Surgery?

Imaging is key to diagnosing a Jones fracture and determining whether you may need Jones fracture surgery. Imaging can help identify whether the fracture is stable. 

If the Jones fracture is displaced, surgery may be needed to realign the bone and ensure proper healing.

If the fracture is nondisplaced and stable, then nonsurgical treatment with immobilization for the Jones fracture would be recommended. 

Jones Fracture Symptoms

Symptoms of a Jones fracture include pain and swelling on the outside of the foot. You may also notice bruising in the foot in the area of the metatarsal bones. 

Numbness and tingling sensations may be present. This is because when there is an injury to the metatarsal bone, it can irritate the nerves that run adjacent to it.  

In the case of fracture dislocation, a visible deformity may be present in the foot, making it difficult to bear weight on the foot. 

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to see a local foot doctor or go to the emergency room immediately. 

Related article:

Pediatric Jones Fractures: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Jones Fractures in Athletes: Risk Factors & Recovery for the Athlete

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References

  1. Kavanaugh, J. H., Brower, T. D., & Mann, R. V. (1978). The Jones fracture revisited. jbjs60(6), 776-782.https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.860.3380&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  2. Fleischer, A. E., Stack, R., Klein, E. E., Baker, J. R., Weil Jr, L., & Weil Sr, L. S. (2017). Forefoot adduction is a risk factor for Jones fracture. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery56(5), 917-921.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1067251617302685
  3. Albloushi M, Alshanqiti A, Qasem M, Abitbol A, Gregory T. Jones type fifth metatarsal fracture fixation in athletes: A review and current concept. World J Orthop. 2021 Sep 18;12(9):640-650.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8472442/
  4. Dean, Benjamin & Kothari, Alpesh & Uppal, Harpal & Kankate, Raghubir. (2012). The Jones Fracture Classification, Management, Outcome, and Complications: A Systematic Review. Foot & ankle specialist. 5. 256-9. 

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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Vaishnavi Bawa
Dr. Vaishnavi Bawa is a Podiatrist who specializes in treating foot and ankle pathology. LifesLittleSteps mission is to educate the public about foot health in an easy-to-understand manner using evidence-based medicine.
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