Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"The middle of my foot hurts"


My old arch is falling down (click on image; watch it throb!)

"Have you ever heard of Liz Franks?" the octagnenarian asked me, waving her foot in the air.

"Yeah," I said slowly, "I've heard of it [her?!?]. My voice screamed 'haven't a clue,' but my patient proceeded with her story.

"The middle of my foot hurts sometimes when I walk. The PA at my podiatrist's office says it's a Lisfranc injury and it has something to do with a separation in the bones of the feet. He told me that's why my foot hurts and the top of it swells."

Ah, yes, Lisfranc's as in Lisfranc's fractures. And now I had the entire Lisfranc's file open in my brain and the sum total of its contents revealed in those three words.

I looked it up later on the Internet, and learned that Doc Lisfranc was a field surgeon in Napolean's army, and the joints named after him are in the midfoot where the long bones or metatarsals below the first and second toes meet the various bones under the ankle. Wang, whoever he is, has seriously injured his and won't be playing for the Yankees for awhile. On average, Lisfranc's injuries occur abruptly and dramatically in athletes or in those who've fallen from great heights or been injured in car accidents. Lisfranc joints can be subtly sprained in athletic endeavors.

In no case, per my search, do Lisfranc dislocations or fractures occur in little old ladies who now and again get pain whilst walking. Pain in the midfoot of the aged is either midfoot impingement syndrome or degenerative arthritis of the middle of the foot including, perhaps, the Lisfranc joints.

The midfoot is the highest point of the arch. As we age--and by we, I definitely include me--the arch sags or just plain goes to ground causing the bone ends to crash into each other in a painful, unsupported sort of way. As a result, with each weight-bearing step the bone ends grind together. This daily grind, over time, wears down the joints causing degenerative or osteo- arthritis.

While merely impinging on one another's space, this bone on bone action causes episodic pain with weight-bearing activities. Once arthritic, the pain is more consistent, and the entire top of the foot can be painful and swollen. As with all archless conditions, standing in bare feet aggravates the pain; I advise all my flatfoots--including myself--to immediately slip their aging feet into arch-supported clogs or sandals on rising in the morning. Good Feet has a lightweight orthotic perfect for wearing with open-toed shoes.

And, as you may know, I am also a great fan of YogaToes, the plastic toe separators, which pull the toes and their metatarsal bones out of each other's face and space.

3 comments:

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kenju said...

I had a good friend whose feet hurt terribly and swelled on top so badly that she had a hard time wearing shoes. Too bad she died of pancreatic ca before anyone found out about the cause of her foot troubles.

Anonymous said...

The pancreatic cancer had spread to her liver which was causing the top of her feet to swell. RIP--life is short. My foot is killing me, I hope I don't have anything serious.