Foot and ankle specialist Dr. Matt McKean recently joined sports radio host Randy Kennedy on 99.5 to discuss ankle injuries, treatments, and recovery times of athletes – in particular, the recent injury to University of Alabama player JoJo Earle.
JoJo Earle, wide receiver for the Crimson Tide, suffered a Jones fracture in his foot during a practice in early August. As Dr. McKean explained, a Jones fracture is a particular type of fracture seen in athletes who have a twisting injury in their foot.
“What makes this injury so interesting has nothing to do with how common it is,” Dr. McKean said. “It’s that it has a high rate of slow healing. This is why high level athletes sometimes need surgery to return to play.”
The reason for slow healing with this injury is that the blood flow is diminished to this area of the body – which makes the fracture slower to heal. In some studies, there is a 30-40% chance the fracture will not heal. Typically, even with surgery, this means an athlete like Earle will be out 6-8 weeks. High performance athletes like Earle generally elect for the surgery to get back to the field sooner.
Kennedy also asked about the risk of future injuries after sustaining a Jones fracture. Dr. McKean explained the many factors that go into assessing the risk – type of injury, location of fracture being a few – because not every fracture is the same.
“A young, healthy person like JoJo has a pretty good chance at getting back but it depends on his X-rays, healing, and overall recovery,” Dr. McKean said.
McKean also addressed the idea that some individuals are more injury prone than others, pointing to two key things – type of sport and foot posture. As he explained, a soccer player is more likely to have lower extremity injuries, in the ankle, knee, and feet. On the other hand, football players will have more higher extremity injuries than a soccer player – so the sport an athlete plays matters. There are also structural considerations in the role of injuries. For example, people with high foot arches are more likely to have a Jones fracture and young females are more like to tear an ACL due to the alignment of the knee. When Dr. McKean evaluates patients, they take this into consideration and discuss how other types of injuries can be prevented, whether it’s through bracing, strengthening, or physical therapy.
Listen to Dr. McKean’s full interview with Randy Kennedy online here.
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