YOUR HEALTH: One way a young athlete’s injury can sideline them for life

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania –16-year old Lindsey Buczkowski is at home on the soccer field.  She's played since she could walk and she's had her share of bumps and bruises.

But during a big game in October 2017, Lindsey crashed into two of her opponents, one of them stepped on her lower leg.

"So my foot stayed in place but my big toe was going in the direction with the rest of my body and it tore the ligaments in the middle of my foot."

"By the time we got over to the side our athletic trainer came over to us and said I think it`s pretty bad," recalled Lindsey's mother, Diana Buczkowski.

Lindsey's foot swelled.   Orthopedic specialists diagnosed a Lisfranc injury.

Doctors say Lisfranc injuries are often misdiagnosed. bruising on the bottom of the foot is usually one sign that this injury has occurred.

"Anyone who is doing a lot of high impact running and jumping, there is a potential risk there," explained Dr. MaCalus Hogan,
Orthopedic Specialist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Dr. Hogan inserted a metal plate and five screws to support Lindsey's foot while the ligaments healed.   In many cases, the hardware stays in the foot ending an athlete's career.

"It has been her life," said Diana.

In some cases, specialists are now opting to remove the plates and screws.   Lindsey jumped at the chance to play again.

"She was young, athletic," Dr. Hogan noted.   "Very strong, the chances of her returning were higher."

Five months after her injury, doctors removed the hardware.

Lindsey swam, exercised, and trained at least two hours a day for another five months to strengthen her damaged foot.   In August, she was cleared to play with no restrictions.

"She's doing great," said Dr. Hogan.   "I hear more about how well she's doing than I even see her, so that's a positive."

Lindsey's mother couldn't be happier.

"It's exciting though. I'm thrilled to be watching her again."

TREATMENT: Treatment for a Lisfranc fracture will depend on the severity of a person`s injury. It may be treated with ice, rest and elevation of the injured foot. A doctor may recommend using crutches to help relieve pain that can occur with standing or walking. More severe injuries may require a person to wear a cast for up to six weeks, keeping the foot immobilized to give it a chance to heal correctly. X-rays may be taken to monitor progress and see if surgery is required. For the most severe Lisfranc injuries, surgery is required. Internal fixation is where the bones of the foot are repositioned and held in place with screws or plates in order to heal. Alternatively a person may undergo fusion treatment, which is less common than internal fixation. The cartilage around the joint is removed before the screws are added in this case; being the goal of the procedure is to fuse the bones to the midfoot to create a single bone. If this occurs, the patient will likely not be able to bear weight on the foot for up to eight weeks after the surgery, and will require a cast. The pins and plates may be removed upon doctor recommendation about four to six months after surgery.  (Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/lisfranc-fracture#treatment)

Lisfranc can have lifetime impacts that aren't seen until later in life.  Even with proper treatment or surgery, doctors say patients may be prone to arthritis in the foot as they age.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.