Fractures of the foot are common and can be painful, but are rarely disabling, and usually heal without operative treatment. Fractures can involve one or several of the forefoot bones (metatarsals) or toe bones (phalanges).
Most foot fractures extend through the bone, and result from trauma, such as dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from a twisting injury. The majority require only conservative treatment with some protection with buddy-taping for toes, a hard-sole-shoe, and occasionally weight bearing restriction, allowing them to heal reasonably quickly, in 4 to 8 weeks. Some fractures of the foot have unique characteristics, and require special consideration.
Stress fractures frequently occur in the bones of the forefoot that extend from your toes to the middle of your foot, and represent tiny cracks in the bone surface. Sometimes they may be too small to see on x-ray, and advanced imaging may be necessary. They can occur with sudden increases in training (such as running or walking for longer distances or times), improper training techniques or changes in training surfaces. Early recognition of stress fractures of the foot is important. Appropriate protection and modification of activity are usually enough to allow these injuries to heal. On the other hand, if not recognized and treated early, stress fractures can develop into complete fractures and result in significant debility and require more severe activity limitation in order to achieve healing.
The Jones fracture, which involves the base of the 5th metatarsal, is unique in that it involves a part of the bone that has a poor blood supply, which prevents the fracture from healing easily. This injury requires special recognition and extended protection, and may take several months to heal. Occasionally conservative treatment fails and surgery is needed for Jones fractures, especially in athletes who participate in high impact sports.