The Lisfranc joint is the point at which the metatarsal bones (long bones that lead up to the toes) and the tarsal bones (bones in the arch) connect. The Lisfranc ligament is a tough band of tissue that joins two of these bones. It is important for maintaining proper alignment and strength of the joint.
Injuries to the Lisfranc joint most commonly occur in victims of automobile accidents, military personnel, runners, horseback riders, football players and participants of other contact sports. But it can be caused by something as simple as missing a step on a staircase.
Lisfranc injuries occur as a result of direct or indirect forces to the foot. A direct force often involves something heavy falling on the foot. Indirect force commonly involves twisting the foot.
There are three types of Lisfranc injuries, which sometimes occur together:
• Sprains. The Lisfranc ligament and other ligaments on the bottom of the midfoot are stronger than those on the top of the midfoot. Therefore, when they are weakened through a sprain (a stretching of the ligament), patients experience instability of the joint in the middle of the foot.
• Fractures. A break in a bone in the Lisfranc joint can be either an avulsion fracture (a small piece of bone is pulled off) or a break through the bone or bones of the midfoot.
• Dislocations. The bones of the Lisfranc joint may be forced from their normal positions.