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Podiatry in Sports: How much time will Dez Bryant miss with a Jones fracture?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant underwent surgery early Monday evening to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Bryant, who reassured fans via Twitter that the surgery “went great”, appeared to suffer the injury during a routine five-yard reception early in the fourth quarter of a 27-26 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.

The injury, commonly known as a Jones fracture, occurred at the base of the fifth metatarsal bone (the one connected to the pinky toe), at the metaphyseal-diaphyseal junction, ¾ of an inch away from the base of the fifth metatarsal. These fractures do not heal easily due to the lack of adequate blood supply to the area. However, almost 75 percent of all Jones fractures eventually heal properly and do not recur.

In order to repair the damage, a screw is typically inserted into the foot to restore the bone and tendon to their natural position. A variety of devices can be used to fixate a Jones fracture, including bone plates, wires, or pins, but in most cases, a screw is a doctor’s weapon of choice.

On Monday, head coach Jason Garrett and other club officials announced a four-to-six week time frame for Bryant’s return.

“Dez Bryant is a great player and obviously one of the best players we have and one of the best players at his position in the league,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News. “He makes a huge difference for us. The next guy has to go in there and play and everyone has to do their job around him. That guy gets an opportunity to step up and do something.”

While the initial diagnosis has been mostly positive, there has been some speculation that the Cowboys’ public estimate for Bryant’s recovery was a little too generous. In fact, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the organization actually expects their superstar receiver to be out for anywhere from four to eight weeks.

So, which is it?

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a board certified podiatrist with over 30 years of experience, has treated numerous Jones fractures at his offices in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach and believes that Bryant’s return will likely come in the latter half of the team’s four-to-eight week estimate.

“After surgery, patients are typically in a cast for three weeks,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “After that, we start physical therapy in order to bring it back around. A 4-6 week recovery is really the norm for an average patient, but given the physical demands of his profession, it leads me to believe he could be out as long as seven-to-eight weeks depending on the severity of the fracture.”

Looking at recent history, Dr. Goldbaum’s estimate makes sense. Bryan’s teammate DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a similar injury last season and was out for seven weeks. Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker, who fractured his fifth metatarsal prior to his senior season at Lousville, also missed roughly seven weeks.

It’s Parker’s injury, however, that serves as a cautionary tale for Bryant. Miami’s first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Parker re-injured his surgically-repaired foot during organized team activities in June, keeping the 22-year-old receiver out until the final week of the preseason.

As Dr. Goldbaum pointed out in his diagnosis of Parker’s injury in one of our previous articles, a quick return to the football field should be a cause for concern more than celebration.

“The problem with football players is that you may want to go eight weeks with the physical therapy because of the demand that they have,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “The risk of re-injury is high and these players are in high demand.”

As for the road ahead, Dr. Goldbaum believes once Bryant begins his rehab in three-or-so weeks, we have a better idea when he will be able to return.

“Once the rehab starts, it really becomes a week-by-week diagnosis,” he said.

In the year’s following its discovery, the Jones fracture became known as the “Dancer’s fracture,” since many people incurred the injury while participating in activities such as dancing. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it doesn’t look like Bryant will be doing a touchdown dance anytime soon.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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