A Lisfranc fracture is a break in one of the bones in the midfoot. The joints in this area connect the forefoot to the midfoot and are sometimes called the Lisfranc joint complex. These fractures can vary widely, from a single break in a simple injury to a complex injury with multiple fractures and dislocations.
Getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment for a Lisfranc fracture is imperative to prevent the development of serious complications. These complications can lead to pain and limited mobility later.
Understanding the Lisfranc Joint Complex
The joints in the midfoot are sometimes called the Lisfranc joint complex. Unlike a knee or elbow, there is not a single joint that connects the forefoot and the midfoot. Instead, the midfoot includes a complicated structure of bones and ligaments that work together. This joint complex shapes the foot and provides stability when walking.
The joint includes five long bones that stretch from the midfoot to the toes, called the metatarsals. These bones may fracture and even dislocate in an accident. The connective tissues that surround them may also suffer damage.
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Lisfranc Fractures Vary Widely in Severity
Injuries to the Lisfranc joint complex can vary widely in severity. Simple breaks or cracks in a single bone with no dislocation may heal with conservative treatment, although it is still imperative you get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. More complex injuries affect more than one of the five metatarsal bones, with multiple fractures of different joints in the midfoot. The combination of fractured bones and ruptured or sprained ligaments differs from case to case.
In general, if you suffered a Lisfranc injury, you will likely see:
- Swelling and pain on top of the foot
- Bruising on the bottom of the foot
- Possible bruising on other areas of the foot
- Ability to bear weight, although painful
- Worsening pain when standing or walking
- Difficulty pushing off with affected foot
While some Lisfranc fractures are simple and straightforward, it can take months for any fracture or injury to the midfoot to heal. Complex injuries are severe and generally require surgical treatment.
Treating a Lisfranc Fracture to the Midfoot
Almost all Lisfranc fractures require surgical treatment. In general, doctors will only recommend nonsurgical treatment when:
- There are no fractures; and
- The bones are not dislocated; and
- The ligaments are not torn
Even if your doctor recommends nonsurgical treatment, you will likely need to use crutches for at least six weeks and bear no weight on the injured foot during this time. Only after the doctor sees satisfactory healing on an X-ray will they allow you to bear weight on the foot.
You will likely still need a brace or boot for several more weeks. Depending on your job, you could be out of work for several months during the healing process.
Surgical Treatment of a Lisfranc Fracture
If you fracture bones in the Lisfranc joint complex, or if the joint moves out of position, you will require surgical realignment and fixation. In general, doctors use internal fixation to realign the bones and hold them in position while they heal. This includes placing screws or plates that remain in place for several months following surgery and are later removed to allow the joint to return to its original range of motion.
When there is too much damage to the joint or the fixation fails, doctors may recommend fusing the joints in the midfoot. This stops the Lisfranc joint complex from having a normal range of motion, but most people can walk normally following a fusion procedure.
Rehabilitation Following a Lisfranc Fracture
After surgery, you will need to wear a cast for six weeks to two months, until the foot heals well enough to bear weight. After X-rays show satisfactory healing, your doctor will likely prescribe a walking boot and slowly allow you to walk further and carry more weight on the foot. Some people may require physical therapy or have exercises they need to complete to rebuild strength and regain range of motion.
Depending on your job and duties, you may be able to return to work before your foot fully heals. Some people, however, will miss several months of work while they recover from a Lisfranc fracture.
Pursuing Compensation After a Lisfranc Fracture in Ohio
If you sustained a Lisfranc fracture in an Ohio traffic accident, attorney David Bressman and the team from Bressman Law can help. We offer free case reviews and can help you understand your rights. We can identify the liable party and build a solid case on your behalf. Let us go to work pursuing the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Call our Ohio office today at (614) 538-1116 to get started.