Breaking one of the 26 bones in the foot is a common injury and usually heals relatively easily with wrap, a splint or a boot, but there are conditions in which a foot fracture may require surgical repair.
If parts of a bone are displaced during a fracture, an Orthopedic surgeon may need to reset the damaged parts of the foot so they can heal properly, often securing the bones with pins or a metal plate. A doctor may also recommend surgery if the bones in the foot are not displaced, but appear to be at risk of instability or blood loss during the recovery process.
A fracture of the fifth metatarsal, the mid-foot bone on the outside of the foot, often requires surgical repair either to ensure secure union of the broken bone, or to speed the healing process. These injuries are at times referred to as a Jones fracture, although the term can be imprecise, with doctors sometimes using the same term to describe similar, but different injuries.
Although a Jones fracture may look bad at first, often the foot is able to heal over time.
Metatarsal fractures are described in part based upon the location of the fracture and how close the fracture is to the cuboid at the base of the foot, between the metatarsals and the ankle. Zone 1 injuries are closest to the cuboid, while Zone 2 injuries slightly farther, and Zone 3 further into the metatarsal bone.
Fractures in Zones 2 and 3 more often require surgery. Zone 3 injuries are frequently caused by a stress fracture, common among runners and people who walk on the sides of their feet. Between about 15% and 30% of Zone 2 and Zone 3 fractures go on to be non-union fractures. Treatment of these kinds of fractures by orthopedic surgeons have also become more common. Previously, a surgical approach was largely reserved for elite athletes who needed to heal quickly. Now, surgical metatarsal repair is more commonly requested by ordinary patients who wish to get back to work wearing a supportive boot, allowing mobility during recovery.
A stress fracture in the foot is often secured by an Orthopedic surgeon with one pin or screw inserted to hold the sections of the broken bone in alignment.
For many, the recovery process is comparatively short with complete recovery within about four months.