Foot discomfort is a common complaint among adults over the age of 16. Oftentimes, such pain is ignored until it subsides but, one type of foot injury in particular can feel like a mild sprain but actually require medical attention: a Lisfranc injury.
In this article, we’ll cover the 5 important facts everyone should know about Lisfranc injuries.
1. What is a Lisfranc Injury?
According to WebMD, a Lisfranc injury happens when “[an individual damages their] bones, or connective tissue called ligaments, in the middle part of [the] foot.”
As Orthoinfo points out, the anatomy of the middle part of the foot is what makes this injury challenging: “the middle region of the foot [contains] a cluster of small bones […] From this cluster, five long bones extend to the toes.” When this area is damaged, recovery can be challenging.
2. What Are The Symptoms of a Lisfranc Injury?
WebMD lists the following as some of the most often reported symptoms of Lisfranc injuries:
- Pain and swelling of the injured foot
- Bruising on the foot
- Inability to place pressure on the foot when standing or walking
Most patients may not immediately think to call their doctor for a Lisfranc injury since it exhibits similar symptoms to a sprain.
While a sprain may take a few days to go away with proper icing, resting, and elevating the foot, a Lisfranc injury will persist. So, patients who continue to have discomfort are encouraged to make an appointment with their doctor to get a diagnosis.
3. How Exactly Is a Lisfranc Injury Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of any condition is a critical step to recovery, and Lisfranc Injuries are no different. Without a diagnosis someone may wrongly assume their foot pain is the result of a sprain—not a Lisfranc injury. This will cause long-term pain because a Lisfranc injury, unlike a sprain, needs serious treatment. Typically, a Lisfranc injury has a few causes.
Orthoinfo describes one such cause of this type of injury as “a simple twist and fall […] commonly seen in football and soccer players when one player lands on the back of another player’s foot while the foot is flexed downward in the push-off position.” But playing sports isn’t the only way to get a Lisfranc injury. According to Orthoinfo, “More severe injuries occur from direct trauma, such as a fall from a height or a motor vehicle collision.”
WebMD cites several different tests a doctor may use to accurately diagnose a Lisfranc injury:
Image tests such as an MRI or an x-ray are common; as are CT scans to check for damage inside the foot. These tests can either confirm the diagnosis of a Lisfranc injury, display a change of the injured foot, or point to another culprit.
After a diagnosis, patients will need to discuss with their doctor what treatment option would be the best choice for their specific case.
4. What Treatment Options Are Available?
There are two types of treatment options for patients: nonsurgical and surgical.
According to WebMD, “If there are no fractures or dislocations in the joint and the ligaments are not torn then a nonsurgical treatment can be offered.” Nonsurgical treatment may involve wearing a non-weight bearing boot or cast for anywhere from 6-8 weeks plus additional recovery time.
A doctor will be able to evaluate the x-rays and imaging tests to determine the extent of the injury. The more extensive the injury is the more likely a patient may have to undergo surgery.
Patients who have displaced fractures or abnormal positioning of the joints may be eligible for surgery. This treatment option is meant to realign the points, return any fractured bone fragments to a normal position, and restore stability and functionality to the midfoot.
Recovery is the final step after a Lisfranc injury. As close as this stage is to being fully recovered, there are a few important things that patients should keep in mind during their recovery period.
Whether treatment involves surgery or not, its goal remains the same for every patient: to improve quality of life. This means giving patients back their lives so they can return to pre-injury normalcy.
Orthoinfo offers a few important reminders for patients recovering from a Lisfranc injury:
- The recovery process may take 6 months to 1 year
- Some patients may have persistent midfoot pain even with a successful surgery
- Some athletic patients never return to their pre-injury levels of sport after these difficult injuries
- Despite excellent surgical reduction and fixation, arthritis may occur from the damage to the cartilage (causing chronic pain and a possible need for surgery)
Recovering from foot injury is possible but it takes time. Another thing to keep in mind while recovering from a foot injury is possible complications. WebMD discusses some possible complications after receiving foot surgery:
- High fever or chills
- Pain that gets worse
- Numbness in your foot
If any of these symptoms appear, the patient is encouraged to call their doctor. Otherwise, it’s good to get lots of rest!
Even though it can be tempting to rush back to normal, the recovery process should not be rushed. Patients are encouraged to follow their doctor’s instructions.
We Can Help
Fortunately, Lisfranc injuries are treatable, and patients can get back on their feet after treatment. But it’s important not to wait to contact your doctor because what might seem like a sprain could be serious.
MCR Health’s orthopedic department provides relief to patients who have suffered from a sports injury and gets them back to doing what they love. Our doctors are here to provide treatment and relief to patients suffering from Lisfranc injuries and more. If you are suffering from a sports injury, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment!