Imaging of a Foot's Bones While Walking on a TreadmillIf you have recently experienced a foot injury, you may be dealing with a Lisfranc injury. A Lisfranc injury is a serious foot injury that occurs when the bones in the middle of the foot are dislocated or broken. The Lisfranc joint is located at the base of the big toe, where the metatarsal bones meet the bones in the foot.

This type of injury is usually caused by a fall or car accident and can be very debilitating. If you have suffered a Lisfranc injury, our Arizona podiatrist says, it is important to seek medical attention immediately

Three Common Types of Lisfranc Injuries

Three common types of injuries can occur to the Lisfranc area of the foot. These are:

  • Sprains. The most common type of Lisfranc injury is a sprain injury, which occurs when the ligaments connecting the tarsal bones become stretched or torn. This type of injury usually results from a twisted ankle or a direct blow to the foot while it’s planted on the ground. Symptoms can include pain when walking or standing, swelling, tenderness in the midfoot area, and bruising in the arch area of your foot.
  • Fractures. A fracture occurs when one or more of the tarsal bones are broken due to direct trauma to that area. Fractures can range from small cracks in one bone (called stress fractures) to multiple fractures across several bones (called displaced fractures). Symptoms can include severe pain when bearing weight on your foot, swelling around your midfoot region, inability to move your toes normally, and visible deformity in your midfoot region.
  • Dislocations. The most serious type of Lisfranc injury is a dislocation injury, which occurs when one or more of the tarsal bones are forced out of their normal position due to extreme force. A dislocated bone will cause intense pain and inflammation around your midfoot region and difficulty walking due to instability in that part of your foot. Depending on this condition’s severity, you may need reconstructive surgery followed by physical therapy for a full recovery.                    

Common Causes of Lisfranc Injuries  

Lisfranc injuries can occur due to a variety of reasons. Most commonly, these types of injuries typically occur due to the following:

  • Falls
  • Sports activities such as running or jumping
  • Car accidents
  • Dropping something heavy on your foot, such as furniture or appliances
  • Slipping off a curb while walking down the street
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit properly, which can cause too much pressure on certain parts of your feet, leading to an injury over time    

Signs of a Lisfranc Injury  

Pain in the mid-foot area near the arch is typically the first symptom people experience when they have suffered a Lisfranc injury. Other signs of an injury may include:

  • Swelling may also occur around this area
  • Discoloration or bruising of the skin
  • Pain that worsens with activity such as walking
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected foot
  • Abnormal midfoot widening
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes or midfoot

If you have any of these symptoms, it is essential to see a doctor immediately to get the treatment you need.                                     

Why You Need a Podiatrist for Treatment  

Because the midfoot area plays an important role in weight-bearing activity, it's important that any potential injuries are addressed immediately by seeking out medical attention from a podiatrist who specializes in treating these types of injuries.

The treatment for a Lisfranc injury will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Immobilization and rest may be enough for minor injuries to allow the bones to heal properly. More severe injuries may require surgery to repair the damaged bones and ligaments. In some cases, metal plates or screws may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal. After surgery, patients will typically need to wear a cast or boot for several weeks before gradually transitioning to regular shoes. 

If left untreated, a Lisfranc injury can lead to further complications such as:

  • Compartment syndrome, where swelling builds up within a contained space resulting in decreased blood flow which can cause permanent damage if not treated right away.
  • Arthritis which can form due to weakened joints caused by inadequate treatment. Arthritis can result in chronic pain; some people may need joint fusion surgery to relieve pain and other symptoms.
  • Failure for bones to heal properly, which may require surgery to repair.
Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute

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