Learn What Physical Therapy Can Be Done After a Jones Fracture (2023)

Physical therapy after a Jones fracture may help improve your overall foot and ankle range of motion, strength, and functional mobility. A Jones fracture is a break in the fifth metatarsal, a bone of your foot that connects your pinky toe to the rest of your foot.

Fractures here are a painful experience and can limit your ability to walk normally and engage in work, recreation, and athletic activity.

Learn What Physical Therapy Can Be Done After a Jones Fracture (1)

Jones Fracture Symptoms

The typical signs and symptoms of a Jones fracture include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain on the outside part of your foot
  • Swelling on the outside part of your foot
  • Discoloration or bruising on your foot
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight on your foot

If you have injured your foot or if you have developed these symptoms, it is important that you visit your healthcare provider or emergency department immediately. Failure to get proper treatment for your foot can cause permanent loss of function.


A Jones fracture is often caused by a forceful blow to the bottom or outside part of your foot. It usually occurs after jumping up and landing forcefully on your foot. Sometimes, the simple act of running can cause microtrauma to the fifth metatarsal, and a Jones fracture may occur.

The onset of your pain may be gradual and happen over a period of weeks or months. When this happens, it is usually considered a stress fracture, and the prognosis for this type of Jones fracture is poorer than with an acute Jones fracture.

Initial Management

After reporting to your healthcare provider or the hospital and if a Jones fracture is suspected, an X-ray will most likely be taken to see the bones of your foot. The X-ray picture will show the fracture is present (or not) and proper treatment can be administered.

If a Jones fracture is confirmed, the fracture must be reduced, which is the process where the bones are put in the correct place. Many times with a Jones fracture, the pieces of bone are close together, but with severe fractures, a surgical procedure called an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) may need to be done to reduce the bones.

After reduction, your healthcare provider will probably put your foot in a cast to help immobilize the fracture while it heals. You will usually be non-weight bearing, which means that you cannot put your foot on the floor and bear weight on it.

Therefore, you will most likely need an assistive device, such as crutches or a walker, to walk. A visit to a physical therapist may be in order to help learn how to properly use your assistive device.

Physical Therapy

After an appropriate amount of healing has occurred, usually 6-8 weeks after injury, your healthcare provider will take the cast off your foot. Don't be surprised if your foot is still swollen and discolored. This is common after a Jones fracture.

Also, the muscles in your leg may appear smaller than on your non-injured leg. At this time, your healthcare provider may refer you to physical therapy to help with your rehabilitation process.

The main focus of physical therapy after a Jones fracture is to overcome the effects of being immobilized and to improve function related to walking and moving around.

Physical therapy can also help put proper stress on your healing bone. This is importantbecause Wolff's law states that bone heals and grows in response to the stress and strain that is placed upon it.

Physical therapy usually begins with an initial evaluation where your physical therapist will collect information about your injury. Common impairments measured and treated after a Jones fracture include the following.

Range of Motion

Range of motion refers to the amount of mobility around a specific joint or joints. After a Jones fracture and wearing a cast on your foot and ankle, your ankle and foot joints may have become tight.

Muscles around your ankle, foot, and toes may also have become tight, so flexibility and range of motion exercises may be necessary to help improve your mobility.


When your healthcare provider removes your cast, you may have some swelling around your foot and ankle. Your physical therapist may prescribe exercises to help with swelling. They may also use physical agents like heat or ice, or physical modalities like electrical stimulation may be used to help manage swelling.

Scar Assessment

If you have had ORIF surgery to reduce your Jones fracture, you will have a surgical scar on the outside part of your foot. Sometimes, scar tissue forms there and prevents the skin and underlying tissue from moving normally. Scar tissue massage may be prescribed to help improve the mobility of your scar.


Even after a period of immobilization, there still may be a pain in your foot and ankle after a Jones fracture. As you use your foot more and start putting more and more weight on it, some of the muscles and joints in the foot may become sore.

There may also be some pain where the fracture was. Your physical therapist may use heat, ice, or TENS to help control your pain.


When you are immobilized in the cast, your muscles are not being used and therefore may become weak. Your physical therapist can help you improve the strength of the muscles around your foot and ankle.

As you heal, other exercises to improve balance and plyometric exercises may be necessary to ensure that you are able to stand, walk and run normally.


Gait refers to the way people walk, and after a Jones fracture, your gait may not be normal. Your physical therapist can help you improve your gait by prescribing exercises and by engaging in specific activities to help improve the way you walk. They can also recommend which assistive device would be best for you to use.

Once your physical therapist has gathered information about your condition, they will then work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

PT Exercises for a Jones Fracture

The most important component of your rehab for a Jones fracture is exercise. Exercises after a Jones fracture are geared to help improve the range of motion and strength around your foot and ankle. This is important to help overcome the negative effects of being immobilized while things were healing.

Exercises that may be prescribed after a Jones fracture may include:

  • Ankle range of motion and stretching exercises
  • Ankle strengthening exercises
  • Foot mobility exercises, like towel grabs with your toes
  • Balance and proprioception exercises

Your physical therapist will show you which exercises are best for you. They may prescribe exercises to be done as part of a home exercise program.

Your physical therapist may also use various therapeutic modalities to help control your pain or swelling after your Jones fracture. Things like electrical stimulation or heat and ice may feel good, but research shows that active engagement, like exercise, is most helpful for restoring functional mobility after a Jones fracture.

Healing Time for a Jones Fracture

After a few weeks of physical therapy, your pain level should be at a minimum and your strength and range of motion in your foot and ankle should be normal. Your physical therapist will progress your program at a pace that is suitable for you to ensure that you return to your previous level of function quickly.

Your Jones fracture should be completely healed approximately three months after injury, depending on the severity of the fracture.

A Word From Verywell

A Jones fracture can be a painful injury and can limit your ability to move around normally. Physical therapy can help ensure that you are able to quickly and safely return to normal activity and function after a Jones fracture.


Do you need physical therapy after a Jones fracture? ›

After a Jones fracture, you need to regain, strength, mobility and range of motion. Physical therapy is usually the best way to achieve this and be able to return to activities of daily living.

What are the long term effects of a Jones fracture? ›

Jones fracture surgery complications include: Acute compartment syndrome (ACS): A build-up of pressure in your muscles may stop blood from getting to tissue, which can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage. Malunion: This happens when your broken bones don't line up correctly while they heal.

When can I start PT after 5th metatarsal fracture? ›

This case shows that, for stable type fractures of the fifth metatarsal base, rehabilitation starting on the second day after the fracture can help accelerate the patient's return to normal physical activities.

How long does it take for a Jones fracture to stop hurting? ›

A Jones fracture will usually take about 6 weeks to heal. However, a person may still experience pain and swelling for 3–6 months. Often, a person will wear a boot or cast and initially attempt to keep their weight off the foot. They may also take pain killers to help with any pain.

How do you know when a Jones fracture is healed? ›

Healing Time for a Jones Fracture

After a few weeks of physical therapy, your pain level should be at a minimum and your strength and range of motion in your foot and ankle should be normal.

How long is physical therapy after a fracture? ›

In general, a fracture should be healed by about eight weeks after the injury with adequate physical therapy 5. However, a patient's rehabilitation timeline will vary depending on the type of fracture and a patient's age and fitness level, among other factors.

What is the fastest way to heal a Jones fracture? ›

Rest – The less pressure you put on your foot, the faster it will heal. Ice – Use ice to help with swelling and inflammation alternating between 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off as needed. Compression – Wrap your foot tightly to help limit swelling.

Why is a Jones fracture hard to heal? ›

A Jones fracture is more complicated to treat because the blood supply to that portion of the bone is referred to as a “watershed” area. This zone of the metatarsal has reduced blood supply than the remainder of the bone. This fact is significant because reduced blood flow can increase healing time from injury.

Why does a Jones fracture take so long to heal? ›

This type of fracture typically disrupts blood flow around the bone, and as a result, it may take longer to heal than other bone fractures. Generally, non-surgical or conservative treatments take a minimum of six to eight weeks, longer if the break is severe or the individual is in poor health.

Can you walk on a broken fifth metatarsal to six weeks after you break it? ›

Recovery from fifth metatarsal fracture surgery usually takes up to seven weeks. You'll need to keep weight off your foot for at least six weeks. You can typically return to your regular activities, including sports, three to four months after surgery or immobilization.

How do you know if your 5th metatarsal is healed? ›

Most fractures heal without any problems in about six weeks. However, it may take three to six months for your symptoms to settle completely – these can include pain or discomfort, stiffness, decreased strength, and swelling. The bones may take longer to heal if you suffer from diabetes or if you smoke.

How do you strengthen your foot after a metatarsal fracture? ›

Towel inversion and eversion
  1. Sit in a chair, and place both feet on a towel on the floor.
  2. Swivel your feet from side to side to slide the towel. First slide your toes, then your heels, as you move the towel with your feet. ...
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

How do I start walking after a Jones fracture? ›

You may walk on the foot as comfort allows but you may find it easier to walk on your heel in the early stages. The boot you have been given should be worn when walking to help to settle your symptoms. Follow up: You will see a Foot and Ankle Specialist about 6 weeks after your injury.

Can you Refracture a Jones fracture? ›

Although these fractures are not common, athletes can suffer refracture or nonunion of a Jones fracture despite operative stabilization. This is often attributable to hardware of insufficient strength, aggressive postoperative rehabilitation, or biologic insufficiency at the fracture site.

When can you start walking after a Jones fracture? ›

Walking After a Jones Fracture

Both non-surgical and surgical Jones fracture recoveries involve a long non-weight bearing period. Your doctor will usually immobilize your foot using a cast or boot and ask you not to stress or weight your foot for six to eight weeks.

Can a Jones fracture reoccur? ›

However, up to 30 percent of Jones fractures repaired with the screw can reoccur.

When should you stop physical therapy? ›

In general, you should attend physical therapy until you reach your PT goals or until your therapist—and you—decide that your condition is severe enough that your goals need to be re-evaluated. Typically, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for soft tissue to heal, so your course of PT may last about that long.

Do you need physical therapy after walking boot? ›

Were you immobilized in a cast or cam boot? Physical therapy will help to strengthen and stabilize your ankle joint after an injury, especially after a period of immobilization. You might notice when you are taken out of a cast or cam boot that your calf is significantly smaller compared to your other leg.

What does a physical therapist do for fracture? ›

At the Hospital or Out-patient Surgical Center

In fact, it is the physical therapist who instructs and guides patients with fractures on how to use assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, and slings. They will help you understand the most effective way to wrap minor fractures and instruct your caregivers as well.

What muscle is involved in a Jones fracture? ›

A person with a Jones fracture may not realize that a fracture has occurred. Diagnosis includes the palpation of an intact fibularis brevis tendon, and demonstration of local tenderness distal to the tuberosity of the fifth metatarsal, and localized over the shaft of the proximal metatarsal.

How do you rehab a broken 5th metatarsal? ›

Towel inversion and eversion
  1. Sit in a chair, and place both feet on a towel on the floor.
  2. Swivel your feet from side to side to slide the towel. First slide your toes, then your heels, as you move the towel with your feet. ...
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

What is the most difficult fracture to repair? ›

Example: A comminuted fracture is the most difficult to repair due to the bone having fractured into numerous pieces. Multiple bone pieces require more effort to hold them together in the ideal position for healing.

What is the most difficult type of fracture to heal from? ›

Comminuted fractures take longer to heal than other kinds of broken bones. They're also much more likely to involve complications. Most comminuted fractures take around a year or longer to heal.

When can I wear regular shoes after metatarsal fracture? ›

Your fracture usually takes about six to eight weeks to heal before you can return to normal shoe wear. Most patients can return to sports and activities about ten weeks after the injury. Test your foot strength before returning to strenuous activities.

How long do you have to wear a walking boot after a foot fracture? ›

Overview. Walking boots protect broken bones and other injuries of the lower leg, ankle, or foot. They prevent more damage and help the area heal. Your doctor may have you use a boot for 1 to 6 weeks.

How long does an avulsion fracture of the 5th metatarsal take to heal? ›

You have sustained a fracture to the base of the 5th metatarsal of your foot, which is known as an avulsion fracture. Please see the picture below to understand where this injury is. This normally takes approximately 6 weeks to unite (heal) although pain and swelling can be ongoing for 3-6 months.

How long is non weight bearing after 5th metatarsal fracture? ›

A 5th metatarsal fracture often heals in six to eight weeks, whether treated by immobilization or through surgery. Weight-bearing activities are significantly reduced for six weeks following surgery.

What happens if 5th metatarsal doesn't heal? ›

The nonunion rate for these fractures may still be as high as 15-20%. A fracture that fails to heal and is painful may require surgical treatment. The surgery can be more difficult at that point and may require a bone graft.

What are the complications of 5th metatarsal fracture? ›

Possible complications include refracture (102), sural nerve injury (12), malunion, delayed union/non-union, prominence of the screwhead, or chronic low level pain (109). Proper surgical technique and appropriate post-operative protocols are the keys to minimizing those complications.

Does massaging a fractured foot help? ›

Loosening the muscles and ligaments surrounding the site of the fracture can make a huge difference for the client. Increasing mobility– As a result of loosened ligaments and muscles, massaging the surrounding area of a fracture may be able to support with bringing back some much-needed mobility to the limb.

How do you know when your broken metatarsal is healed? ›

When you touch the fractured area, the pain will lessen as the fracture gets more solid. So, one way to tell if the broken bone is healed is for the doctor to examine you – if the bone doesn't hurt when he touches it, and it's been about six weeks since you broke it, the bone is most likely healed.

What shoes are best after a foot fracture? ›

Wear a Stable Shoe

One of favorite walking shoes for people with a history of metatarsal stress fracture is the Orthofeet Walker shoe. Very stable and offers good cushion.

When can I start strengthening after a fracture? ›

For Strength

When your fracture has recovered, you can add resistance exercises to your routine to improve the strength of the foot. Your foot doctor will recommend doing these exercises four to six weeks after the injury.

Can you ride a bike with a Jones fracture? ›

You may notice pain walking on uneven ground for weeks, or months, after the break has healed. Sports should not be considered until walking is pain free. Exceptions would be swimming and cycling – as long as there is no pain while doing them. Driving should only be done if you can safely do an emergency stop.

What is the healing rate of a Jones fracture? ›

Average time to discharge 13 weeks (4–24). 18% of patients took longer than 18 weeks for their fracture to clinically heal. 34% were clinically healed at less than six weeks, with only 7% radiologically healed at six weeks.

Does a Jones fracture hurt all the time? ›

The typical symptoms of a Jones fracture include pain on the outside of the foot, bruising, tenderness when pressure is placed on the foot, a persistent ache on the outside of the foot, and difficulty walking or putting weight on the foot.

How long after a Jones fracture can I walk? ›

Farber, who specializes in foot and ankle surgery, said, “for a true Jones fracture, it is recommended that patients be placed in a short leg cast or controlled ankle motion (CAM) boot, and remain non-weight bearing for approximately six weeks.

What is the best treatment for a Jones fracture? ›

The first step of Jones fracture treatment is rest and to prevent movement in the foot. Apply ice to the break as well. Jones fracture surgery may be needed to align the bone and help with healing. These fractures will sometimes heal on their own, but may take months to heal without surgery.

How do you start walking after Jones fracture? ›

You may walk on the foot as comfort allows but you may find it easier to walk on your heel in the early stages. The boot you have been given should be worn when walking to help to settle your symptoms. Follow up: You will see a Foot and Ankle Specialist about 6 weeks after your injury.


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