Saturday, February 22, 2014

Recovering from a Jones Fracture

Day 0
On Thursday, October 10th, I was at the Pikes Peak Athletics Conference (PPAC) League Meet, doing what I always do during a big meet: run around and scream at kids to run faster.  Cutting across an overgrown field with the head coach, I found myself high-stepping into or onto something.  You'd think I would know what it was, but truthfully, I was so distracted by how it felt that I didn't even think about it until I had limped off a good ten steps or so.  I didn't hear a snap or anything - I just felt like I had jammed my foot up into my ankle and now sharp bolts of pain were letting me know I wasn't about to jog this one off.

I got taken to Urgent Care, where an X-ray confirmed what I had feared - that I had broken a bone in my foot.  My particular break was a complete fracture of the fifth metatarsal.  The location of the fracture within the fifth classified it as one of the three common types of fifth metatarsal fractures:  a Jones Fracture.  

Just a wee little thing...betchya can't even see it.

That night, while hopped up on Vicodin (I hate the feeling!) I did some research to see what I could learn.  I can't say the findings were encouraging.  This prognosis is sobering to say the least:  

If a Jones fracture fails to unite (malunion or non union), which is a common problem with these fractures, it can become a chronic condition. If this is the case, podiatrists will likely recommend that the patient spend more time in a cast, up to twenty weeks.
For several reasons, a Jones fracture often does not heal. The diaphyseal bone, where the fracture occurs, is an area of poor blood supply. In medical terms, it is a watershed area between two blood supplies. This makes healing difficult. In addition, there are various tendons, including the peroneus brevis and fibularis tertius, and two small muscles attached to the bone. These may pull the fracture apart and prevent healing.

Day 4
On Monday, October 14th, I had a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Simpson.  We scheduled surgery for the following Thursday, October 24th.  The swelling in my foot was still pretty impressive, and it had to cool down a bit.  The surgical process for my type of Jones fracture is simple enough.  Take a screw and drill it through both parts of the bone, parallel to the shaft of the bone.  Ouch.

My temporary splint got thrown in the trash, and I was given a bionic boot, with its six-velcro-strap beauty.

I took a half-day off the previous Friday, but now I was back to work, in modified form.  Being immobile while teaching a bunch of eleven and twelve year olds isn't the easiest job out there.  I spent a lot of time lying on the couch at home, as well.  Cale and Melissa were both heroes and put up with my constant requests during those first few days.

Day 14
My mom dropped me off at the Orthopedic Surgeon's office late in the morning.  The staff admitted me, gave me some gas, and next thing I know it's over.  Surgery went smoothly.  By now, I had started to feel a little better every day.  Of course, the surgery put me back a bit recovery-wise, and I got to enjoy Round 2 of feeling beaten up.  Melissa brought me home, and the next few days again were rough.  

Day 40
At my monthly meeting with the orthopod, I was given permission to bear weight as tolerated, as long as I was in the boot.  In other words, I could wean myself from crutches.  

Days 43-50

Maui!  I never, and I mean NEVER, seem to go on vacation just for vacation's sake.  Melissa and I went with our friends, who had in their possession for one week a beautiful shoreline residence on Maui's northwestern edge.
If you're gonna sit around and do nothing, this seems like a pretty good way to do it.

I approve of the view
And the recovery drink of choice.
The highlight of the trip may have been getting to swim aside tons of sea turtles.  The ocean swimming also represented my first semblance of exercise in nearly two months.

Day 69
Another milestone!  By now, I had been itching to try putting some weight on my left foot but had managed to resist the temptation.  On my next orthopod visit, I got to lose the boot and begin PT sessions.  I quickly called up my friend Simon and scheduled a visit with him for the next Monday.

I really struggled those first few days without the boot.  My foot had barely any stamina before it started throbbing from all the joint movement that hadn't occurred for months.

Day 100
My first taste of meaningful outdoor activity, I soft-pedaled for a bit short of an hour outside on the west side of town.  Just in time, too, as I had been adding pounds at a fairly alarming rate, going from a pre-break 142 to a high on this day of 162.

Day 130
Just this week, I began "briskly walking" - I can't help but think of mallwalking when I say that.  I kept trying to tell myself that this is no different than if you were in shape to walk the 80th mile in an ultra.  Good luck with that.

I'm probably still a week or two from taking my first running steps.  I'm able to do some real mountain biking.  It's been a while; I enjoy coming back to it.  I'll probably continue to ride more than I have in past years once I'm healthier.

It's been almost 5 months since I've run.  At no other point in my life since I began running have I been away from it for this long.  It's time - I'm excited to be putting this thing behind me and be moving again!


  1. You have to do a race ASAP so I can sneak in a cheap win!

  2. Dang, that is serious. Does that screw get removed after the bone has fused? If it stays, doesn't it decrease your range of motion and continue to be uncomfortable/painful?

    Also, were there any signs ahead of time that this may be coming? When I had a stress fracture of my 5th metatarsal, I had pain and discomfort for nearly 2 months and was seeking treatment thinking that it was a muscle or tendon issue, as it did not show up on x-rays. Then one day, while easily hiking at 13k on Grays, it snapped and was incredibly painful. Scary to think this could just happen out of the blue with no warning, like on the far side of the Grand Canyon for instance..

    Anyways, sorry to hear how hard this has been, but glad to hear you are on the mend. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Keeping you in my thoughts, Sean. I know this has been a tough process. Keep battling and keep the faith, bro. You're showing a lot of character.


  4. Thanks guys. Appreciate the support.

    JV - no, the screw *should* be a permanent part of me. As you mention, there is a risk of decreased range of motion and discomfort.

    There was one sign of this happening. In June, I was running down Engineer Mountain when I kind of "stubbed" my foot, rolled my ankle, or did something that didn't feel too good. It was a jamming type of movement - imagine your toes kind of jamming up toward your shin a bit. Nothing crazy or so I thought. I limped for about a minute, walked for another minute, and then jogged the remainder of the trail back to my car. I was out running the next day and never thought twice about it, and it didn't give me any trouble until October. When the orthopod looked at it in October, he said there was evidence of a prior stress fracture or fracture in the area. So I guess I really had no way of knowing.

    I share your fear that this could have (or still could) happen anywhere at any time. At a cross country meet is a bit safer than 12 miles from a trailhead.

  5. Oh my.....I feel like I am reading all about myself in your story. I suffered a Jones fracture on a Thursday, Ortho appt the following monday, and had surgery yesterday. I have a family vacation planned to St. Maarten in 3 weeeks, so I too will be sitting by the pool and the beautiful Caribbean sea with my big cumbersome boot. Did it really take over 100 days to fully heal? Oh my......not really what I wanted to read. (I am 4'11", and was standing on a chair to turn off a ceiling fan. Fell off the chair, and when I hit the floor, that is when I fractured my foot.)
    Thank you for sharing your story. I can totally relate!

  6. I had surgery for Jones fracture in January and was in boot non wt bearing for 8 weeks. X-ray yesterday shows really no bone healing and Im afraid I have a non-union or pseudoarthrosis. I am desperate to run again ( 9 min miles but I call it running) And NO I do not want to SWIM. Any thoughts anyone?

  7. I can relate to this as well. I too had a Jones Fracture occur in late May from stepping off of a curb wrong and rolling my right foot. My orthopod wanted to try to go the non-surgical route and I was in an aircast/Boot for 10 weeks non-weight bearing. Then I was walking on it for a few weeks with the aid of a crutch, only to be told at the 12 week follow up that the bones were non-union and could only be fixed by surgery( screw and bone graft from heel). Had the surgery September 8th, and was in the aircast/boot non-weight bearing for 6 weeks. Just started physical therapy 2 weeks ago and it has been a slow road to recovery. Very hard to bear weight out of the boot and am being told it will be another 4-6 weeks until I can walk on it without boot or crutch. What makes it equally difficult is because it was my right foot, I can't drive until it's fully healed. I feel bad for anyone who has to go through this experience. It has been very frustrating for me, being a very active person, who has become a couch potato. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I am going through this now. Right foot . Put in screw to join bones but now XRAY shows the bones apart. How did your situation end up?

  8. November 2nd was when I got blessed with my "Jones Fracture". Mine is also on my R foot, so my teenager has my car keys. Since I already had a bone stimulator, the doctor thought there was a good chance of the bone healing if I used it 20 minutes per day. I was put in a boot and did not weight load at all. (thank goodness for the scooter!) I've been using the Bone Stimulator, and at 5 weeks the Xray showed some healing. The crack that went all the way through is now a bit less than half way. I was told I can weight load in the boot just around the house for a week. If I don't have pain, next week I can walk in my boot everywhere. At this point, I am having pain, so I'm not sure if that will happen so soon. Gordon's story scares me! What happened in those 2 weeks between 10-12 that concluded the bones were non-union? If the 10 week X-rays showed nonunion, why would they tell you to begin to bear weight?
    I'm also curious if anyone else in a boot has experienced a lot of swelling in the toes and top of the foot? Mine was really bad until my doctor saw it at the 3 week visit and let me adjust the boot so that I could move my toes. Before that, the toes were being pressed down and my upper foot was the only place I had pain. My doctor also showed me how to manually move the fluid up towards my leg with my hands, so the swelling is much better now. Also, I'm curious about when everyone else was allowed to start moving the ankle, and how that felt.

  9. let's see where do I begin January 4th 2015 I was playing basketball and I hurt my left foot go pop in the next day I went to the clinic and after further review revealed I had a Jones fracture I saw the specialist 2 days later and he recommended I have foot surgery to insert a screw I'm a truck driver I need to be mobile on the city pickup and delivery and get in and out of the truck on walking around and need to be mobile so I saw the option of 12 weeks with possibly and not healing is not a good scenario for myself. so I like that the surgery in January 13th it was completed successfully and I was let Loose into the world with a boot n crutch. I am an avid weightlifter and basketball player I knew off the bat just sitting around waiting the hill with the screw wasn't my best option as far as me taking active care into m healing. it took vitamins vitamin d milk and an amino acid protein shake around o'clock for 8 weeks. and to help my body circulate the nutrients I was consuming I would go to the gym and do sit ups but work on the machines I would do anything to get my blood pressure to rise to help circulate the most important thing which is the blood which carries nutrients to the bone, so I took an active approach to healing. March 10th I was given the OK to return to work in a stiff leather boots which I might add hurt but all my shoes are fitted with Superfeet insoles my work boot my casual shoe in my basketball sneakers and I believe it is Wolff's law that says the bone will heal to the pressure it is given and so mid April I was jogging again and back to playing basketball all the while still taking my protein shakes to this day I still drink milk 3 cups a day and I stay healthy go to the gym keep my blood circulatingwe are now two weeks away from my surgery date May 1st year anniversary and my foot is a little sore when i bend ankle and clutch my metatarsal. but I keep stretching and it is far better than the way it was when I startedthose first few days after surgery I didn't see how life without vicodin would workso my advice is if you need your bone to heal replenish what is broken with amino acids from protein shakes and stay active keep the blood circulating keep your blood pumping

  10. I am 16 and I have a jones fracture. I fractured it on December 3rd and I had surgery December 15th. I was not put in a hard cast or anything. The doc just told me to wear crutches until the next post op. I am wondering if I can put pressure on my foot since I already have a metal screw inside of my foot. The doctor is ordering me a bone stimulator and will give it to me next Monday on January 11th. I have soccer tryouts on February 22nd and I am also wondering if I will be back in time. Thank you!

  11. I broke mine 5 years ago. This Oct., I had the screw taken out as it was hurting me. Unfortunately, the screw was bent. It broke and they had to bore it out. This meant my bone was hollow. At 6 weeks, they x-rayed and I had rebroken the 5th metatarsal. Five weeks after that joyous discovery, I had surgery where they placed a plate and 8 screws on the fracture and did a bone graft from my knee. They could not use a screw as the bone was hollow. We are planning on going to the Bahamas to spend time on a friend's boat in April and I hope I am ready.

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  14. Thanks for posting your story, I can really relate. I broke mine April 2 and started a new job 2 days later :/ With no insurance at the time it took 6 weeks to see a specialist. I had no healing T the point and began the boot scoot boogie (Using the knee scoots lol) for the next 2 months. Went back and still had no healing, I was devastated to say the least as I now knew my summer was donezo. That had been my light at the end of the tunnel but instead I had to buy a $2000 bone growth stimulater to be me best bud for the months ahead. At this point I was like u guys just want my money, this s**t won't work, get me under the knife and over with! That didn't happen, I stuck with it, only 20 min a day for 5-6 weeks which I still managed to miss a few times. I asked the rep what the best recovery times he has seen and he said he's seen full recovery in 7 weeks. Before I continue, I'm 28 and after years of athletics was diagnosed with a fracture in my lumbar back which is a chronic condition. This happened the summer before my senior year of college and since it has felt like injury after injury and nothing but bad news every time I saw a Dr. To my absolute surprise and amazement I finally got that good news I was hoping for! I was able to say bye bye to Mr Jones as get moving again after 6 months of immobility. My recovery and healing has been going well and I'm getting very active again. My back injury really set me back and I felt I lost everything I loved doing. Everything happens for a reason and when it's supposed to because now I'm more active then I've been since my back and I owe that in large part for being forced to sit on my ass for 6 months yearning to just walk ol outside. It been about a full two months and I'm running, swimming, and playing a ton of Disc Golf. Disc Golf was a random idea I had for my rehab and honestly it is amazing for recovery because you are just walking and throwing a frisbee around the park. Just watch your step so u don't roll your ankle on a fallen tree branch. Anyways I was inspired to share this after reading your peace and I hope you are doing great still since it has been 2 years for u. Good luck to everyone else reading this in recovery and last thing, I absolutely have no ties to the company but I highly recommend using the machine I used which is the "Bioventus Exogen Ultrasound Bone Healing Machine." Just get it from Ebay because insurance will not cover it all at least in my case and they got for like $300 to $500 on there. I have mine to sell if anyone's interested. I'm a believer and best off all it saved me from going under the knife. Take care all, keep hope alive, keep smiling and never lose faith in the process!

  15. I, too, have found your story helpful. Thank you. I broke my 5th metatarsal while on vacation in August 2016, had surgery for screw fixation on Aug 11th and had the screw removed on Dec 23rd (Merry Christmas to me). I opted to have the screw removed, since I was still in pain and had hit the wall with PT. I had healed the bone 100% in only 5 1/2 weeks (using the Exogen Ultrasound Bone Stimulator), but the pain never really went away. Turns out that when the doctor went in to take out the screw, he found my tendon was torn and had to stitch it up. I am hoping that the lack of range in motion and sensitivity I have been experiencing is due to the tendon tear. I will know soon enough. The screw removal is much easier than the initial procedure and I can bear weight immediately. I just need to be back in the boot for 3 weeks. I wish everyone the best who is going through this! I have shared my story at

  16. Thank you for all the stories.I have question to the December 24 person or anyone for that matter...Did anyone work during there recovery. I am finding it very difficult to move at all without bearing weight.Surgeryt is scheduled for Jan 4 2017 for a screw...this Jones fracture has been a nightmare and full of pain

  17. Were you able to work during your recovery?I am gonna ask my Doctor to make sure my tendon isn't not torn when he goes to put the screw in.the kind of pain I am having sounds just like your pain

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  19. Hi. 10 days into my Jones fracture. Although a little disheartening, I've found everyone's stories very helpful - thank you all. Booked into see the orthopedic surgeon next week.
    A blessing for me has been the 'knee walker scooter' that I hired. As a very active woman & mum I felt that crutches were so disabling. I was wheeling myself around using an office chair around the house to enable me to stand with my knee supported while still able to use my hands in the kitchen, laundry, office etc. Day 3 after my injury, visiting friend saw me wheeling around and told me her mother in law had used a knee walker scooter. I googled it and decided then and there that was the path for me. I'm virtually independent around the house because of it. Yes its a little dorky, and I get stared at when out and about, but I really dont mind. The kids think its a huge novelty and my partner thinks its cute. Ultimately my independence is precious to me! To those who relate I highly recommend a knee walker scooter.
    Certainly taking in all the advice given in this blog and again thank you all. All the best :)

  20. Broke my 5th metatarsal on June 16th and had surgery on June 20th. I am a very active 60 year old...I ski, hike, cycle, etc. I tore my ACL, MCL and Meniscus at 50 playing football and had to have reconstructive knee surgery, but this has been a much bigger pain. I broke my right foot so I am unable to drive anywhere!!! Also, with my knee surgery I could put some weight on my foot whereas I can't in my current situation. I have my 6 week post op in 2 weeks and am hopeful I will be able to start walking. I have been using the EXOGEN machine 2 times a day on my foot and I have been exercise my legs and walking with my scooter 1 1/2 - 3 miles a day. What can I expect at my next post op...will I be able to wear a shoe or be placed in a boot, and what will I actually be able to do initially?

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