What Is Jones Fracture? Spotlight on This Common Basketball Injury Sidelined
As most professional basketball fans will recall, then Oklahoma City Thunder superstar forward, Kevin Durant, was sidelined for the beginning of the 2014-5 season. At the time—and presently—this player was among the league leaders in offense; players, coaches and fans alike continue marvel at the creativity and skill with which he can score. This was a huge blow to the team, of course—Durant is most certainly bound for the Hall of Fame—but it highlighted one of the most commonly treated injuries in the NBA: Jones fracture.
What is this condition? Basically, it’s a fracture in the fifth metatarsal, the bone that connects your pinky toe to the rest of the foot. This causes significant pain and swelling in the middle and outside regions of this part of the body. What makes it problematic and sometimes difficult to treat is that it’s rarely caused by a discrete event like a fall or unintentional contact; instead, it’s usually the result of prolonged periods of stress. In Durant’s case, he was brought in for evaluation after complaining of pain after practice.
Some Useful Stats
Outside of the practice gyms and stadiums, though, this is certainly an injury that affects a great deal of people. Jones fracture is very common, especially in children, comprising 41% of foot fractures in this group. In a survey of industrial accidents, this was also the most frequently occurring foot injury, and they very often occur among members of the military, dancers and, as noted above, athletes. Basically, it’s not at all unusual for someone to have to go through it.
The thing about Jones fracture is that it presents a number of challenges in terms of treatment. Why is this one tougher to take on than other types of breaks or sprains? It has everything to do with the positioning of the injury; essentially, since this affects the edge of the foot, blood circulation can be severely affected. This means that healing and repair of the bone and surrounding areas is severely hindered. Furthermore, this state of affairs increases chances of re-injury to the area.
So what can be done to take on this fracture? There’s some debate in the medical community; while some contend that more conservative treatments offer better outcomes, many are convinced that surgery should be indicated. To be sure, with proper immobilization—basically a good cast and avoidance of using the foot—most Jones fractures will heal. That said, and because of that aforementioned constriction to blood supply, surgery offers a much quicker turnaround time, something which is especially important if, like Kevin Durant, you work on your feet or are very active.
Durant, on the advice of his team’s medical staff, opted for surgery. As they noted, with this approach, you end up with a smaller risk of re-injury, which is an important consideration for a star athlete. So what does this surgery look like and what does it do? There are a couple different approaches, but, most often, a specially devised screw or plate needs to be put in.
The procedure, itself, is minimally invasive, usually requiring only a small incision. Patients can opt for either general anesthetic—that is, being “put down”—or localized, where the foot is numbed and they stay awake. The orthopedic surgeon has an array of advanced devices to help them along and will employ X-ray and other imaging techniques to ensure that everything’s going smoothly.
While the medical staffs of NBA teams have to be necessarily very conservative in their approach—what they do not want to see is a player rush back into action and worsen his condition—the typical indication for recovery is that it takes 6-8 weeks to fully recover. Depending on the severity of the surgery and case, some surgeons will tell patients to keep all weight off the foot for up to two weeks. Those in recovery will need to wear special boots to provide extra support.
In Durant’s case, it’s clear that he recovered well. Now a star on the Golden State Warriors, he’s putting up astonishing per game numbers, including 25.8 points, as well as increased average assists (4.7), and rebounds (8.5). Basically he’s peaking and since he’s playing on a loaded team of stars, he likely has the best shot he’s ever had of winning the NBA title.
To be sure, while there are occasionally some complications, surgery represents a highly successful option. If you have or think you have Jones fracture, it’s worth talking to your doctor about whether this is the way to go. There’s no doubt, though, that living free of pain will greatly increase your quality of life.
If you’re looking for a minimally invasive approach to Jones fracture, the team at Onward Orthopedics is ready to help. Call one of their customer care professionals at (800) 577-1693 to learn more about your options.
- Price, Satchel. ‘Learn More about Durant’s Foot Injury’. October 12, 2014. Accessed December 20, 2016. http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/10/12/6965691/kevin-durant-jones-fracture-injury-nba-thunder.
- Miller, Stephen J. TREATMENT OF FIFTH METATARSAL FRACTURE.S: Guidelines for Decision-Making. n.p., 2011. http://www.podiatryinstitute.com/pdfs/Update_2006/2006_28.pdf.
- Basketball Reference. ‘Kevin Durant’. 2016. Accessed December 20, 2016. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/duranke01.html.