USA Today's For The Win, "Kevin Durant's foot injury, as explained by a medical expert"

Published October 12, 2014

Kevin Durant's foot injury, as explained by a medical expert

By: Adi Joseph

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has a broken right foot and is expected out six to eight weeks. But what is the Jones fracture and what is the likelihood of recurrence? USA TODAY Sports talked about the injury with Nick Grosso, a sports medicine surgeon and president of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, one of the largest practices in the country about the injury.

Here’s an edited transcript to help you better understand what Durant is going through:

What is a Jones stress fracture?

“‘Fracture’ is one of those words that people misunderstand. There are complete fractures, when the bone breaks all the way through. A stress fracture is the bone impending a break (as more of a crack). That’s why there was soreness when they looked into it (rather than more severe pain). From what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like the bone is completely fractured.

“It’s an overuse injury. So it starts with a little bit of soreness until it gets worse and finally they bring it to someone’s attention. I see it all the time where people have it start as soreness. They’re tough injuries to get better from. … These guys are used to playing with pain. A little ache in the foot didn’t get his attention until it got severe enough. … In a guy like this, you probably would operate on this no matter when he brought it up.”

Why could he need surgery?

“What differentiates the Jones fracture from other fractures … it’s really more toward the back of the foot, the back end of the long bone of the metatarsal, just forward from that. That has a very low blood supply and very low healing potential (without surgery) as a result.

“Even in non-athletes, we tend to be more aggressive in treating this type of fracture. I’ve had two in the past few months where we’ve opted for surgery. … We’ve gotten more aggressive in treating this in the last 10 years. Some people still opt to treat conservatively, but a fair number of those … will go on to not heal and need surgery. But with athletes and other people who spend a lot of time on their feet, I try to talk them into the surgery right away just because it’s a higher chance of getting them up quickly.”

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

How do Durant’s body type and occupation factor into the injury?

“Being a basketball player is very tough on your feet. Even with the shoes they have now adays, hardwood has very little give to it. The big difference is that if it’s a stress fracture, they’re going to put a screw right into the bone, running a wire and then put a screw in to reinforce the foot. If somebody has a complete fracture, the second operation is typically a bone graft. From what I’ve read on this, I don’t see it being a particular big issue.

“Orthopedic injuries tend to be very mechanical in nature. … For the foot, what really makes a difference is the weight, how much weight and stress it sees, and also how much flexibility. Flat-footed people tend to be more flexible, while people with high arches tend to be more injury risks. That means more of an issue. Of course, I haven’t seen Kevin Durant without shoes on, so it’s tough to know.”

What are the chances of re-injury or Durant being slowed down in the future?

“The chances of it being a long-term problem are very low, assuming it is in fact a stress fracture as indicated. He should be pretty much as good as new, with the surgery done correctly. He should do really well.

“Assuming everything heals well, he should be able to ride a stationary bike within a matter of days. Hopefully he won’t get de-conditioned (because he’ll be able to work out), and he should be able to get back to game-type situations at practice and they’ll see how he does.”

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