Lisfranc injuries occur when bones in the midfoot are broken, or the ligaments supporting the bones are torn. Injuries range from simple to complex, depending on how many joints or bones are damaged. The injury is commonly misinterpreted as a simple sprain, being that midfoot injuries are often the result of a twist and fall. Most patients treat sprains at home. However, Lisfranc injuries are more complex. The injury takes months to heal and always requires medical intervention.
The midfoot is a group of small bones, found in the middle region of the foot, forming an arch on the top of the foot. Each bone is held tightly in place by a cluster of ligaments, stretching across and down the foot. The only bones in the midfoot not held in place by connective tissue are the metatarsals, the five long bones extending to the toes. A simple fall can break these bones or push them out of place. Addressing a damage to the midfoot early prevents permanent alteration to the anatomy of the foot. The midfoot continually stabilizes the arch as you walk, and transfers the force generated by the calf muscles to the front of the foot.
The most common symptoms of a Lisfranc injury includes the following: swelling or pain at the top of the foot, bruising on the top and bottom of the foot, and severe pain when standing or walking. Methods commonly used to treat sprains, including rest, ice or elevation, will not relieve pain or swelling. A doctor may recommend wearing a non-weight bearing cast for six weeks or surgery, depending on the severity of the injury. Surgery is recommended for any injury featuring a fracture in the joints of the midfoot or altered positioning of the joints. During surgery, a doctor’s goal is to realign the joints and return the bone fragments to normal position.