There are many types of fractures that can occur in the foot and ankle. Simple fractures are indicated by a break in the bone without any movement of the pieces. This type of fracture often responds well to casting and non-weightbearing. When the fracture involves multiple breaks or there is significant space between the fragments, the treatment becomes a little more complicated. More complicated fractures typically require surgical intervention, placement of screws or plates as well as casting and non-weight bearing. One particular fracture, the Jones fracture, falls into this complicated fracture type.
First described in 1902 by British surgeon Sir Robert Jones, this fracture is known to have complications to the healing process when not treated correctly. The fracture occurs in the fifth metatarsal, the long bone behind your fifth toe that ends along the majority of the outside of your foot. There are two main components of the anatomy of this area that cause this fracture to be especially problematic:
- Blood flow. The blood vessels that supply nutrients to the bone and soft tissues are less robust at the area near the base of this bone than most other bones in your foot. This decreased vascularity isn’t unique to the foot and several of these ‘watershed’ areas are known throughout the body.
- Tendon attachments. There are several muscles whose tendons attach to the base of this bone. The fibularis brevis in your leg creates an outward or lateral pull, and the peroneus tertius in the front of your leg create an upward or dorsal pull. When a fracture separates the base of the bone away from the shaft, these muscles can distract the fragment, or create space between the pieces. Distance between the bone fragments inhibits your body to heal the area.
Surgical intervention allow for the bone fragments to be fixated in their proper position. Screw or plate fixation prevents the aforementioned muscles from pulling the pieces apart. Additionally, putting the pieces close together allows for improved healing and time for recovering. Because these types of fractures can be problematic, your Austin podiatrist may apply a cast or use external bone stimulators to give your body the best chance to heal properly. Allows seek out medical attention when you suspect a fracture in order to avoid future problems.
Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!