In week one of the new NFL Season, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has potentially suffered yet another foot injury after landing awkwardly on his foot in last Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. In Oct 2017, Olson missed 8 weeks of play over a fifth metatarsal fracture, also known as a Jones fracture. While there has not been an official announcement regarding his condition, it would make sense for him to potentially re-injury the area. Olson made the play, then he limped off the field, visibly upset. The next week Olson was walking in an air-cast boot, using crutches. His absence would be a big loss for Carolina.
Fifth Metatarsal Fractures/Jones Fractures
Fifth metatarsal fractures fall under the category of common sports-related injuries. They are different than many other types of fractures because of the poor healing of the 5th metatarsal. These poorly healing types of fractures (Jones fractures) occur at the base of the 5th metatarsal bone. Because of the decreased blood flow to this area, these fractures often take up to twice as long as a typical fracture to heal. Similarily, they sometimes do not heal correctly at all. For a competitive elite athlete, this can often mean missing much of a season.
Surgery or Not for Metatarsal Bone Fracture?
In some cases, Jones fractures can be treated without surgery if the fracture fragments are well aligned, however, there is an increased risk of the bone refracturing down the line with non-surgical care. A doctor will almost always recommend surgery to treat a Jones fracture, especially with high-level athletes like Olsen. Surgery will usually allows for faster return to activity and earlier weight-bearing. Additionally, surgery will lower refracture rates. Nonsurgical treatment of Jones fractures often involves significant periods of non-weight bearing, usually for 8-12 weeks in a hard cast. Even still, they can occasionally take even longer to heal. Staying off the injured foot may require a roll-a-bout or knee scooter.
Jones Fracture Surgery
Jones fracture surgery involves placing a pin or screw down the 5th metatarsal to stabilize the bone. This pin also helps provide compression across the fracture. The surgery usually involves a faster return to weight-bearing activities, not only because of the compression across the fracture but also because the strength of the screw itself provides stability to the injured bone. It can also provide some added strength, which usually provides for a lower refracture rate later on after the surgery. Although in Olsen’s case, it appears to possibly have refractured anyway.
This surgery may be done percutaneously, or through the skin, which does not require a significant incision. A plate could also be used for fractures that are in multiple pieces. The plate would provide even more stability to the broken bone. Plates would usually stay in for the long-term. However if the plate causes discomfort after the bone heels, they may need to be removed.
When to Schedule an Appointment
If you or someone you know has an injured or painful foot, or if you rolled your ankle and it just isn’t getting better or is causing significant pain, call Kansas City Foot and Ankle today at 816-943-1111 to schedule an appointment with our expert team of doctors. We are available to get your feet back to their best. We also have multiple, convenient locations to help address your needs. Call today!