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Family Foot & Ankle

The Mighty (and Misunderstood) Midfoot

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At the front of your foot, you’ll find the toes, and the five long, curved metatarsal bones that they connect to. At the back, the prominent ankle bone (talus) sits atop the large and sturdy heel bone.

But we’re not finished yet. In the middle, you’ll find a strange clump of five irregular, funny-looking bones—the cuboid; the navicular; and the medial, intermediate, and lateral cuneiform bones. If you didn’t know better, you might think you were looking at a small pile of moon rocks, rather than an important part of the human skeleton.

Yet despite its odd appearance and lack of publicity, the midfoot (also known as the Lisfranc complex) performs an extremely important role in your life. The five irregular midfoot bones—alongside the adjoining muscles, ligaments, and other support structures—form the arch of the foot. The midfoot must be strong enough to support your weight, but flexible enough to absorb and cushion the impact of each landing, and “springy” enough to transfer the forces generated by the powerful calf muscles all the way to the front of the foot with every step.

Foot PainThat’s why any injury to the ligaments, bones, or cartilage of the midfoot—even a seemingly “minor” one—can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. Walking, or even simply standing, may become painful and difficult. And without proper care as soon as possible, injuries may cause long term chronic pain and difficulty.

Midfoot sprains (stretching or tearing of the ligaments) are relatively common, and can occur from something as simple as a twist or fall. Due to both their location and their biomechanical function, they can also take a frustratingly long time to heal—up to 6 weeks in a cast is fairly standard, and that’s if the injury is still stable and no bones are broken or dislocated. More substantial injuries often require surgical correction.

In all cases, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully about when you can return to certain activities, and what kinds of rehabilitation work can be performed. This will give you the greatest chance of returning to pre-injury levels as quickly as possible, with the lowest risk of ongoing pain or post-traumatic arthritis.

So, respect your mighty midfoot and take good care of your feet! If you feel any pain or notice any swelling, bruising, or deformity of your midfoot, please book an appointment with Family Foot & Ankle Center immediately. You can schedule at any of our convenient Cincinnati-area offices by calling (888) 689-3317.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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