Lisfranc joint injuries are the second most common foot injury in athletes, yet are often missed or misdiagnosed.¹ Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries refer to bony or ligamentous compromise of the tarsometatarsal and intercuneiform joint complex. The Lisfranc ligament connects the plantar portion of the medial cuneiform to the base of the second metatarsal.² Without proper treatment, a chronic Lisfranc injury may lead to longitudinal arch collapse, abduction of the forefoot, and midfoot arthritis.³ Physical therapy can help individuals regain functional mobility and return to sport or activities.
Mechanism of Injury
High-energy: Forced hyper-plantarflexion with a valgus/varus component. Example: Car accident, crush injury or fall from a height.
Low-energy: Forced hyper-plantarflexion of the midfoot with an axial load through the foot. Example: Competitive sports or a ground level fall.
The midfoot injury may involve the ligament, bone, or a combination of both.
Signs and Symptoms
Bruising and swelling over the plantar surface of the midfoot, pain with palpation over the midfoot for up to five days after injury, pain with weight-bearing that is typically exacerbated with heel raises.¹
Stable injuries (partial sprains and extra-articular fractures) are treated non-operatively. Typically an immobilization boot is worn for up to 6 weeks, gentle range of motion exercises are performed, and weight-bearing is progressed as tolerated.² Treatment focuses on restoration of a normal gait pattern and proprioceptive training.¹
Unstable or displaced injuries of the midfoot require surgical management. Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with transarticular screw fixation has been the gold standard. Traditional screws are typically removed at 4 months.³ However, ORIF with primary arthrodesis has become more popular as it’s been associated with a lower reoperation rate for hardware removal compared to ORIF alone.²
Post-operative patients are initially placed in a non-weight bearing cast and progress to a walking boot. Full weight bearing is initiated by the 8th week postoperatively.¹ Athletes may transition from a walking boot into a stiff-soled athletic shoe with a semirigid orthotic device or an athletic shoe with a graphite insole added for stiffness.³
Blog Post written by Kathleen Hank, DPT. At the time of publishing Kathleen was in her Sports Ortho Clinical with me at Catz Physical Therapy.
- Lorenz DS, Beauchamp C. Functional progression and return to sport criteria for a high school football player following surgery for a Lisfranc injury. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013;8(2):162-171.
- Clare MP. Lisfranc injuries. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2017;10(1):81-85. doi:10.1007/s12178-017-9387-6.
- Haytmanek Jr. CT, Clanton TO. Ligamentous Lisfranc injuries in the athlete. Oper Tech Sports Med. 2014;22(4):313-320.