Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Junior has suffered a “sprain of the right ankle and fissure of the fifth metatarsal (5th MT).” He will miss today’s big match against Real Madrid and likely many more. The injury occurred on February 25th during PSG’s match against Marseille, and Neymar just underwent a successful repair this past Sunday. But what is a “fractured 5th MT”? How was Neymar’s injury repaired? What is Neymar’s estimated recovery time? And how will this affect PSG’s chances at the European Cup?
The metatarsals are the long bones in the foot that connect to the toes, and they are the most important weight-bearing structures of the forefoot. The 5th MT is the one on the outside of the foot that connects the ankle/hindfoot to the pinky toe. It is particularly important because more motion occurs at the 5th MT than any of the other metatarsals, and several muscles attach to it that play critical roles during the gait cycle. A fracture to this area will affect the biomechanics of the foot making walking painful. And, anything that makes routine walking difficult is going to make returning to sport even more of a challenge.
5th Metatarsal fractures are quite common in sports like basketball, soccer, jogging, ballet, gymnastics, and high-impact aerobic activities. In fact, these fractures are often referred to as Dancer’s Fractures or Jones Fractures. Other well-known soccer players who suffered from this type of injury include David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, John Terry, and Gabriel Jesus.
Most 5th MT fractures may be treated non-operatively depending on the location of the injury, and the fracture’s severity. Non-operative treatments include painkillers, ice, rest, and a few-month period of immobilization. A critical factor when determining the appropriate treatment for 5th MT fractures is delineating the exact location of the fracture in the bone, as the blood supply to certain areas of the bone is a bit more tenuous. Without good blood supply, the body has a difficult time healing broken bones. Athletes may also choose surgery over conservative treatment to avoid the prolonged immobilization required for successful non-operative treatment.
Apparently, Neymar’s injury was severe enough for surgery, which was completed by Rodrigo Lasmar. The operation consisted of the placing a screw across the fracture site in the 5th MT of the right foot. Lasmar reported that Neymar’s recovery time would take up to three months. Therefore, he will miss the Champions League round-of-16 second leg with Real Madrid. The current plan is to have Neymar reassessed in six weeks to establish a possible date for returning to training.