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Podiatry in Sports: Cowboys’ Maliek Collins Fractures Foot

The Dallas Cowboys will be without defensive tackle Maliek Collins for the next 10 to 12 weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a broken right foot, according to ESPN.

Podiatry in Sports: Maliek Collins

Podiatry in Sports: Maliek Collins

Collins, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, suffered the injury during last week’s organized team activities and is likely to start camp on the physically unable to perform list.

The break, also according to ESPN, is similar to the one Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant suffered last year to his fifth metatarsal. Like Bryant, Collins had a screw inserted into the foot to restore the bone and tendon to their natural position. Although a variety of devices can be used to fix fractures, including bone plates, wires, or pins, but in most cases, a screw is a doctor’s weapon of choice.

Collins’ 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.

A Podiatrist’s Thoughts

At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum has treated numerous fractures of the fifth metatarsal and can offer some insight on what exactly Collins is dealing with based on the information that is currently available.

“After surgery, patients are typically in a cast for three weeks,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “After that, they’ll 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 and the initial 10-12 week diagnosis, it’s likely that he suffered a much more severe fracture.”

Looking at recent history for comparable injuries, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a similar injury in 2014 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 before returning to action.

In the case of Bryant and Parker, however, both players seemed to return too quickly from their injuries and were forced to undergo second surgeries. This is actually a common occurrence when dealing with Jones fractures, but it looks like the Cowboys won’t be taking any chances with Collins.

“The bone graft has to be tight and you have to pack it,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “Obviously, it wasn’t able to do that with Bryant or Parker. The area suffered some sort of trauma, and it moved. The trabecular pattern of the bone has to work its way through, and you’ve got to get the circulation going through there. When things go wrong, they can use another bone graft or they can use a bone structure that is mixed and then placed in the area as filler.”

As for the road ahead, Dr. Goldbaum believes once Collins begins his rehab in three-or-so weeks, we have should 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 end, it appears that a better-safe-than-sorry approach to Jones fractures is the right way to go.


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