Left untreated, this little-known foot injury can lead to serious long-term problems
Elite athletes like NFL quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Santonio Holmes had productive seasons ended by the little-known and often overlooked Lisfranc injury, a serious foot injury that few have heard of and no one wants. But foot and ankle surgeons at the Annual Scientific Conference of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) this week are evaluating how to effectively diagnose and treat this injury, which can result in severe long-term complications like chronic pain, osteoarthritis and even foot deformities.
Relatively uncommon, found in only 1 of every 55,000-60,000 people annually, Lisfranc injuries occur in the midfoot – where the long bones leading up to the toes (metatarsals) connect to the bones in the arch (tarsals). “The Lisfranc complex is a critical joint in propulsion during walking and running. Unfortunately, injuries there are easily overlooked. As many as thirty percent of Lisfranc injuries are missed at initial diagnosis by providers who are not foot and ankle specialists. The long-term effects can be debilitating,” observes Cleveland, Ohio foot and ankle surgeon Mark Hardy, DPM, FACFAS, and a conference presenter.
Diagnosis can be difficult because the signs, even during examination and imaging, can be extremely subtle. Injuries most often occur to car accident victims where the foot is jammed into the floorboard or to athletes when the foot is planted and twisted. Direct trauma injuries can result when a heavy object is dropped on the foot. “Most people don’t have an appreciation of the amount of force required to disrupt the Lisfranc complex. Whether you’re an athlete or a laborer, early and appropriate treatment is mandated,” says Hardy.
Lisfranc injuries can also result simply from missing the last step on the stairs; even a minor slip and fall can cause serious injury. Symptoms of a Lisfranc injury may include swelling of the foot, pain throughout the midfoot upon standing or during examination, inability to bear weight, bruising on the bottom of the foot in the arch area, and an abnormal widening of the foot, possibly signaling dislocation.
Lisfranc injuries fall into three categories; sprains, fractures and dislocations. Sprains typically do not require more than rest and recuperation time, as they are comparable to ankle sprains. In a fracture, a break in a bone in the Lisfranc joint occurs. In a dislocation, the bones are forced from their normal positions. In severe cases, both fractures and dislocations occur. In fractures and dislocations, surgery is often the best option. Patients hope for a non-surgical response, but foot and ankle surgeons are well aware of the dangers associated with putting off necessary surgery.
“A number of factors impact the surgeon’s decision on treatment options; the patient’s age, overall health and activity level,” says Hardy. “Because of the possible long-term impact of this injury, our chief objective is ensuring a positive outlook for the future.”
Wires, pins and even surgical buttons can be used to stabilize the joint, both permanently and in some cases temporarily. Some promising studies have focused on the effectiveness of a minimally invasive technique that can help reduce the recuperation period.
“Lisfranc injuries can be successfully treated when properly diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. If you have experienced any sort of foot trauma and symptoms appear, it’s time to see a foot and ankle surgeon,” urges Hardy. “Especially in the case of Lisfranc injuries, the earlier someone visits a foot and ankle surgeon, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.”
For more information on foot and ankle injuries and conditions, visit the ACFAS patient education website, FootHealthFacts.org.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a professional society of over 6,800 foot and ankle surgeons. Founded in 1942, the College’s mission is to promote research and provide continuing education for the foot and ankle surgical specialty, and to educate the general public on foot health and conditions of the foot and ankle through its consumer website, FootHealthFacts.org.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) is hosting its 71st Annual Scientific Conference in Las Vegas on February 11-14, 2013 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Conference Center. ACFAS is a professional society of more than 6,800 foot and ankle surgeons dedicated to promoting the art and science of foot, ankle, and related lower extremity surgery; addressing the concerns of foot and ankle surgeons; and advancing and improving standards of education and surgical skill.
This year’s conference will bring about 1,500 surgeons and 150 exhibiting companies to the city of Las Vegas and we are looking forward to the Las Vegas experience! During the conference our surgeons will discuss the latest trends and procedures in foot and ankle surgery to help improve the health and quality of life for patients. Three of those topics have been turned into consumer-aimed press releases for distribution during the conference. The three press releases, which are embargoed until the conference, include:
Smoking and Bone Healing – A Risky Combination: Smokers take nearly 50 percent longer to heal after surgery than non-smokers. For every non-smoking patient whose bones heal normally, four smokers will experience non-union, or failure of the bone to mend. Surgeons discuss ways to treat this challenging patient population.
Lisfranc Injury – Easy to Miss, Hard to Get Over: Left untreated, this little-known and often overlooked foot injury can lead to serious long-term problems like osteoarthritis, chronic pain and even foot deformities. Surgeons assess the best treatment options for this complex injury that seems to be afflicting more and more professional athletes.
Pediatric Flatfoot Deformity – A Cause for Alarm? Left untreated, pediatric flatfoot poses a serious developmental threat to children. Foot and ankle surgeons re-examine the best course of treatment for optimal long-term health.
Please contact Tracy Hulett or Melissa Matusek if you are interested in receiving advance copies of these embargoed releases, or if you are interested in setting up interviews/photo opportunities with the College’s physician media spokespeople. You can reach us by e-mail at the below addresses or by phone at 773-693-9300. You can also visit FootHealthFacts.org, the College’s patient education website for more valuable foot and ankle health information.
Thank you and we hope to see you in Vegas!
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