What You Need To Know About Lisfranc Injury
A foot injury can dramatically impact your day-to-day life. To prevent such incidents, as well as any injury in general, it’s important to know as much as you can about anatomy.
Today, we’ll talk about the Lisfranc joint, which is one of the most overlooked parts of the foot.
What and where is this joint exactly?
(image: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
Our feet are made up of 52 bones (26 in each) out of 206 bones in the human body. That means one-fourth of the bones in the entire human body can be found in these extremities. The middle portion of the foot or midfoot is composed of five long bones called the metatarsals. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains that the Lisfranc joint is where the midfoot connects to the forefoot (the phalanges or bones of the toes) through ligaments. Its main purpose is for stability in the arches, alignment, and strength of the foot.
Types of Lisfranc injuries
There are three types of injuries that you can get in this obscure joint:
– An overstretched ligament in the Lisfranc joint is considered a sprain which can lead to instability in the midfoot.
– Broken metatarsals or even the hindfoot are classified as fractures.
– Lastly, dislocations happen when the bone is taken out of the joint.
How does it get injured?
Even if you aren’t physically active, there are still risks of damaging your midfoot. The most common Lisfranc injuries occur in vehicle accidents when the foot is jammed against the car. Slipping down a flight of stairs or dropping a heavy object on top of your foot can also cause a Lisfranc injury.
That being said, having an active lifestyle means you have a higher risk of injuring this particular joint. A basic move such as twisting the foot while it’s planted on the ground, or pivoting, is another notorious cause. The State Journal Register states that Lisfranc injuries can happen to runners who run on bumpy trails, horseback riders who fall while one foot is stuck in the stirrup, soccer players, wakeboarders, and even ballerinas.
Some positions in different types of sports are more vulnerable than others. Baseball players are especially prone to Lisfranc injuries because of the way they have to pivot, turn, and slide on the field. Favoring one direction may even add to the wear and tear to your foot on that side. A prime example is Kevin Rhomberg who avoided turning to the right during his playing years. Lottoland notes that the Cleveland Indians outfielder only pivots to the left even if that means making a 270-degree turn in order to face right. Thankfully, Rhomberg was able to avoid Lisfranc injuries despite this strange habit. The takeaway though is that repetitive movement can put too much pressure on the same side, weaken it, and leave it more vulnerable to a Lisfranc injury.
Symptoms to watch out for
The main symptoms of a Lisfranc injury are:
– Pain in the midfoot when standing or when applying pressure
– Inability to put weight on the foot
– Bruising on the top and the bottom of the foot
Diagnosis, treatment, and recovery
When you suspect an injury in your midfoot, seek medical assistance immediately. A doctor will perform a physical examination to check for the common signs. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons states that they are easy to misdiagnose, especially differentiating a sprain from a fracture, which means getting an X-ray or a CT scan is the best way to identify the extent of the damage. If the injury isn’t particularly severe, a nonsurgical treatment of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) will be prescribed. The doctor may also immobilize the foot to minimize the weight and pressure on it, as well as physical therapy to boost recovery.
For sprains, you may need 2-8 weeks of rest to regain mobility and strength. However, when the injury is more extreme, as in the case of fractures and dislocation, surgery might be required which will take 6-12 months to rehabilitate. When you feel that you are ready to get back to your normal routine after recovering from a Lisfranc injury, check out the steps to restoring your fitness here on the Caroline Jordan Fitness blog. If you let your body heal completely and take it slow in the beginning, you’ll be back on your feet in no time — literally.