Walking After a Jones Fracture

What the rehab and recovery period entails and how long it will take

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Physical therapy can help you start walking after a Jones fracture by improving your overall foot and ankle range of motion, strength, and functional mobility. This begins after surgery and initial recovery steps, including being in a cast and staying off of the affected foot.

A Jones fracture is a break in the foot bone that connects your pinky toe to the rest of your foot (fifth metatarsal). The time it takes for it to heal varies, but can be up to three months.

This article will go over what to expect while you’re recovering from a Jones fracture, including what physical therapy rehabilitation will be like.

Photo of a nurse comforting patient with a Jones fracture
Brand Images / ERProdcutions / Getty Images

Jones Fracture Symptoms

Foot fractures are painful and can limit your ability to walk normally and engage in work, recreation, and athletic activity.

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.

Jones Fracture Causes 

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

The onset of your pain can be gradual and happen over a period of weeks or months. In this case, it’s usually considered a stress fracture. The outlook for this type of Jones fracture is worse than it is for an acute Jones fracture.

How Jones Fractures Are Treated

If you go to your provider’s office, urgent care, or the ER, an X-ray will most likely be taken to see the bones of your foot. The X-ray will show whether it's broken. It will also help providers decide on the next steps in your treatment.

If you have a Jones fracture, the first step is to put the bones back in the correct place (reduction).

With most Jones fractures, the pieces of bone are often close together. However, in severe fractures, a surgical procedure called an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) might need to be done to reduce the bones.

After reduction, your provider will probably put your foot in a cast to help keep the fracture from moving while it heals (immobilization).

You will usually be told not to put your foot on the floor or bear weight on it (non-weight bearing).

You will most likely need an assistive device, such as crutches or a walker, to get around. A visit to a physical therapist (PT) can help you learn how to properly use your assistive device.

Physical Therapy for Jones Fractures

About six to weight weeks after the injury, your 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. The muscles in your injured leg may look smaller than the ones on your other leg.

Your provider may refer you to a physical therapist to help you in the next part of your recovery. 

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

PT can also help put proper stress on your healing bone. This is important because bone heals and grows in response to the stress and strain that is put on it.

You’ll start PT by having an evaluation with a physical therapist. They will ask you about your injury and do some tests to see how your leg is working. 

Range of Motion

Range of motion is the amount of mobility around a specific joint(s).

After a Jones fracture and wearing a cast on your foot and ankle, the joints may have gotten tight.

The muscles around your ankle, foot, and toes may also have become tight. Flexibility and range of motion exercises can improve your mobility.

Checking Swelling

When your provider takes off the 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 to help manage the swelling.

Scar Assessment

If you have had ORIF surgery to reduce a Jones fracture, you will have a surgical scar on the outside part of your foot. 

Sometimes, scar tissue forms and prevents the skin and the tissue under it from moving normally. Scar tissue massage can be prescribed to improve the mobility of your scar.

Pain Management

Even after a period of immobilization, you can still have pain in your foot and ankle after a Jones fracture. As you start to use your foot and put more weight on it, some of the muscles and joints in the foot can get sore.

You also may have some pain where the fracture was. Your physical therapist can use heat, ice, or TENS to help control the pain.

Strength Training

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

As you heal, you can also start doing other exercises to improve balance. Plyometric exercises can help you stand, walk, and run normally.

Gait Assessment

Gait is the way you walk. After a Jones fracture, your gait may not be normal. Your physical therapist can help you fix your gait by showing you exercises and having you do specific activities to help improve the way you walk. 

They can also recommend the best assistive device for you to use during your recovery. 

Once your physical therapist has gathered information about your condition, they will then work with you to develop a 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 will help improve the range of motion and strength around your foot and ankle. Doing these exercises will help you overcome the negative effects of being immobilized while your body was healing.

Exercises that might be prescribed after a Jones fracture 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 can use various therapeutic modalities to help control your pain or swelling after your Jones fracture.

While electrical stimulation or heat and ice may offer some symptom relief, research has shown that active engagement (like exercise), is the most helpful treatment 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 much better and your strength and range of motion in your foot and ankle should be normal.

Your physical therapist will advance your program at a pace that works for you and helps you return to your previous level of function as soon as possible. 

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


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.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brett Sears, PT
Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy.