International soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos, who plays for Paris-Saint Germaine, sustained a 5th metatarsal fracture and will be out for at least the next 6 weeks. The injury occurred in a 3-0 win against Marseille. Neymar was taken off the field on a stretcher following the injury. He was examined by the medical staff of both his soccer team and the Brazilian national soccer team and will be having surgery in Brazil by the end of the week and is expected to miss a significant amount of play because of the injury. Based on the description of the injury, it sounds like Neymar may have experienced a “Jones” fracture of the fifth metatarsal, which is the bone along the outside of the foot.
Fifth metatarsal fractures are common sports-related injuries and are different than many other types of fractures because of the poor healing of the 5th metatarsal near the base of the bone. In Neymar’s case, the fracture occurred when he rolled his ankle; which is very common way that these fractures occur. These poorly healing types of fractures are known as “Jones fractures” and they occur at the base of the 5th metatarsal bone in an area of decreased blood flow. Because of the decreased blood flow to the area, these fractures often take twice as long as a typical fracture to heal. For a competitive elite athlete, this can mean missing entire seasons of play.
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. In very active people, and certainly in high level athletes like Neymar, surgery is almost always recommended to treat Jones fractures because surgery for a Jones fracture usually allows for faster return to activity and earlier weightbearing with lower refracture rates. Nonsurgical treatment of Jones fractures often involves significant periods of non-weightbearing, usually for 8-12 weeks in a hard cast, but occasionally they can take even longer to heal. A roll-a-bout or knee scooter may be used to help stay off the injured foot.
Surgery for a Jones fracture usually involves placing a pin or screw down the 5th metatarsal bone in order to stabilize the bone and help provide compression across the fracture. The surgery usually involves a faster return to weightbearing 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. The screw also provides added strength for a lower refracture rate later on after the surgery. Oftentimes, the surgery is done percutaneously, or through the skin, and does not require a significant incision. A plate could also be used for fractures that are in multiple pieces to provide even more stability to the broken bone. Plates usually would stay in long-term but may need to be removed at a later time if they are causing discomfort to the patient after surgery.
If you or someone you know has an injured or painful foot or 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!