The Sixers’ streak of injured rookies continues with Zhaire Smith suffering from a Jones Fracture in his left foot. Tuesday morning, Sixers vice president of athlete care Daniel Medina said in a statement that Smith suffered the injury Monday while at Tim Grgurich’s development camp in Las Vegas.
Our first concern is how difficult a Jones fracture is to treat. These injuries occur at the 5th metatarsal bone in the foot. The 5th metatarsal is subject to many injuries, but few as serious and difficult to treat as the Jones fracture. The fracture is usually a combination of forces that converge where the shaft of the metatarsal meets the base of the metatarsal. Usually seen in athletes whose sport entails explosive movements like sprinting or jumping. This injury is also common in any non-athlete as a trauma related injury. A bad sprain, twist of the ankle, falling off a curb, or direct trauma to the area can cause this injury to present.
There are many published literature showing the effectiveness of surgical vs nonsurgical treatment. In understanding the literature, a few things become clear. The anatomy of the Jones fracture dictates that healing will require more stability than some other types of fractures. This is because the blood flow to the 5th metatarsal, which is how all of the healing factors arrive to a fracture site, enters the bone at approximately the same level as the Jones fracture. This means that the blood supply to the bone is often injured. This can cause delayed healing.
Weekend warriors, active parents, children, or even high level athletes require surgical intervention for this injury typically. The aim of the procedure, whether by plate and screw fixation, screw fixation alone, bone graft with external fixation, or various other methods, is to stabilize and hold the bone in position so that it may heal properly and in a reproducible fashion. The surgery takes on average 6 weeks for the bone to heal. It is usually the fastest and most efficient way to have someone return to activity.
Professional athletes like Smith, will likely require a longer rehabilitation time as the majority of those 6 weeks, while the bone is healing, is non-weight bearing. This will decondition and weaken the leg muscles as well as the foot musculature. There is a need for proper rehabilitation by physical therapy in order to return to the high level activity needed for competition.
The Jones fracture is a simple fracture with many complicating issues, of which only a few mentioned in this article. The reproducible healing of the bone is best accomplished with surgical intervention. However, nonsurgical options are available for patients with a lower activity level. The results for nonsurgical treatment vary, but in general are still good.
So, what does this mean for Smith’s upcoming season? This injury is not an injury that the recovery timeline can be rushed, rather it must be given the respect it demands and the time it needs to heal. Recurrent injuries from mobilizing and returning to activity too early are becoming more frequent. Rumor has it Smith will undergo surgery to fix the fracture later this week. There is no timeline for Smith’s return, but the Sixers have tended toward caution when dealing with injuries to their young players. While all players heal differently it is safe to say Smith has a long road of recovery before him.
Cornerstone Foot & Ankle is a full service foot and ankle specialty office with locations in Sewell, Cherry Hill, Marlton, Mt. Holly, Woodbury, and Glassboro; serving the South Jersey region. We offer a full suite of services including surgery, fracture care, fungal nail care, diabetic foot care, pediatric podiatry, custom braces and orthotics, wound care, limb salvage, and treatments for arch pain, heel pain, and sports injuries; just to name a few. If it hurts below your knee, we can help you! CALL NOW or request your appointment online TODAY!