What is it about a Jones fracture that can put top NBA player Kevin Durant out for months?
Anyway you look at it, breaking a major bone in your foot is going to put you out for a little while. By all accounts, Durant's 5th metatarsal fracture came as a result of repetitive stress and not of an acute injury. He does not remember any direct injury.
A fracture from repetitive stress is known as a “stress fracture.” Stress fractures are fractures that are sometimes difficult to see on x-ray because they are hairline in appearance. With lots of TLC, a stress fracture usually heals without the need for surgery. What is interesting is that from what we know, Durant's stress fracture has potentially become a surgical problem. Why so? This special guy has that special fracture that can go from mild to major because of where it is located and what surrounds it.
Durant has what is called a “Jones fracture.” This is a fracture of the 5th metatarsal bone just shy of an inch away from the base of the bone. The challenge with healing this type of fracture is that several tendons attach to the 5th metatarsal bone in this area, notably the Peroneus Brevis tendon and the Peroneus Tertius tendon. There is a constant tugging on the fractured bone and a hairline fracture can turn into a gapping one with any increased activity. Definitely not good to jump on this one!
Another challenge, and why Durant may end up in the OR, is that the blood supply in the area closer to the shaft of the metatarsal is not as good as the blood supply closer the ends of the bone. The risk of waiting in a cast in hopes of it healing on its own, only to end up in the OR if it doesn’t is compounded by the loss of muscle tone and a slower return to activity with the long wait. Athletes are more likely to cut their losses by approaching surgery off the bat knowing the potential for healing may be shortened by doing so.