The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NFL News: Is Dez Bryant’s Jones Fracture Prognosis Too Optimistic?

Posted by on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015


The Dallas Cowboys may have won in their match-up against the NY Giants on September 13th, but it’s come at a steep cost. All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant fractured the fifth metatarsal–the bone leading to the pinky toe–on his right foot, which necessitates surgical repair.

Averaging 91 receptions, 1,311 yards, and 13 touchdowns a season, the team will undoubtedly miss his presence on the field. The 26-year-old just signed a five-year deal worth more than $70 million, according to Forbes, which he “more than deserved” as “one of the best receivers in the NFL, if not the best.”1

Initial reports speculate that Dez Bryant will return in “4-6 weeks,” but this prognosis is a bit optimistic, say our board-certified podiatrists in NYC.2

dez bryant foot
Dez Bryant is a durable and optimistic player, arguably the best receiver in the league right now, but will a Jones fracture set him back this season? Image Source:

What Happened to Dez Bryant?

Bryant exited the game in the first half of the game with dehydration, but quickly bounced back. According to Dallas News, he “appeared to suffer the injury in the first minute of the fourth quarter after picking up a five-yard reception on a crossing pattern.”

There are typically three ways a metatarsal fracture occurs.3 With an avulsion fracture at the base of the metatarsal, a sudden pulling of the peroneal brevis tendon or ligament from the end of the metatarsal causes the break. There is usually very little displacement in that case. With a Jones fracture at the metaphyseal-diaphyseal junction further down the metatarsal, stress from a lifted heel and a planted forefoot causes the fracture. Typically, athletes have an undiagnosed stress fracture that progresses to a complete fracture in this case. With a spiral or oblique shaft fracture close to the fifth toe, direct trauma or mechanical stress on the bone causes displacement, fracture, and instability.

Dez Bryant reportedly suffered a Jones fracture, which is very common among pro athletes.4 Bryant has proven to be a very durable player–this will be his first absence since week two of the 2011 season–but even the most resilient players have trouble with the dreaded Jones fracture.

Why Is a 6-Week Recovery Too Optimistic for a Jones Fracture?

As Dr. T.O. Souryal, president of the NBA Team Physicians Association, once pointed out: “The fifth [metatarsal] is very unique and it’s unique because there are tendons that attach there that are constantly pulling in the opposite direction that you want the healing to take place. None of the other metatarsal bones have that stress on them. Because of the mechanics, because of the blood supply, there is that little shadow of uncertainty.”5

In about 89% of cases, Jones fractures do heal uneventfully after surgery involving screw and plate placement.6 Healing could take place in as little as four or five weeks, but sometimes it takes three or four months. There is really no way to tell how long recovery will take in the early stages of injury. Bone healing is no guarantee with a Jones fracture either; re-injury can easily occur, as we saw with NBA player Kevin Durant who was dogged with foot issues spanning multiple seasons. Most recently, his treatment required another surgery with a controversial bone graft.

Jones Fractures in the NFL

There are countless examples in the NFL of players whose Jones fractures were much worse than they initially seemed. Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a similar injury last season and sat out for seven weeks. NFL receiver Donte Stallworth, who suffered a similar injury, predicts an 8-week recovery timetable.7 Receiver Michael Crabtree, now with the Oakland Raiders, was out for more than 10 weeks.8 Former Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks was out for 13 weeks.9 Rookie receiver DaVante Parker missed almost three months of play with the Miami Dolphins after undergoing surgery to correct a hardware issue he had from a fifth metatarsal fracture sustained in college. Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones suffered left foot fractures, on and off again, for three years.

Dez Bryant underwent successful surgery on September 14th, a day earlier than initially reported. He was spotted in a black boot and said he “can’t wait to be back” and expects to heal in four weeks. He’s a tenacious player eager to get back to full strength again, as are most pro-level competitors, but we hope he’ll consider his long-term health and exercise some caution. As reminds us, this isn’t Bryant’s first foot and ankle surgery.10 “During his rookie campaign, Bryant fractured his right fibula and a surgical plate was inserted to stabilize the area,” they report, adding: “Ensuring no extra stress is placed on that area will be key to avoiding any potential cascade injury.” Furthermore, once the bone heals, he’ll need some time to condition and return to peak performance again.

Do You Have a Broken Foot in NYC?

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and Westchester specializes in foot fracture diagnosis, repair, and rehabilitation. We work with amateur and pro athletes to get players back to the game as quickly and efficiently as possible, using the latest surgical techniques and therapies. Contact us for immediate care.




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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.