The truth about lisfranc surgery pain

I have had countless people ask me “are you in pain”, or “how is your foot is doing?”  Most of the time I assume it is kind of like saying to someone you haven’t talked to in a while “how are you?” and their response is usually “I am doing well.” Yeah, it’s kind of like having that conversation.

Last night we had a few friends stop by to have pizza with my husband and me.  When they arrived, my girlfriend went upstairs to help my husband in the kitchen.  As her husband leaned down to give me a hug, he said “how are you really, and I don’t want the “I’m doing great” answer.”  So I told him the truth.  Today I was with another person whom I knew wanted the truth and not the “I’m doing great” stock answer.  So I also told him the truth.  In both situations, neither man tried to “fix” my pain, or tell me they know how it feels, or try to tell me about a time they were in pain.   Instead they both just sat with my information and listened to me.  Both times, it was a very rewarding experience.  I felt understood and somewhat relieved to be able to share my pain with someone else.

Until yesterday,  I have not wanted to bore people with my details of my painful journey and certainly have never want to be labeled a complainer, so I have kept the bulk of my pain to myself.  But now, after 2 positive experiences of sharing my pain I have decided to be honest  with anyone who really wants to know.  *But I have to sense they are really interested.  So if you don’t want to know, you should skip the next couple of paragraphs.

Any surgeon will tell you that lisfranc surgery is one of the most painful surgeries there is.  There are a multitude of bones, ligaments and nerves that all congregate in the mid foot area. Slicing that area open, drilling in a plate and screws will surely result in pain.  I was mentally prepared for this.  What I wasn’t prepared for is how long I would be in some sort of pain.

Because my lisfranc diagnosis took so long, I had already endured a lot of pain while walking. I had a couple of months with a steady level 4 pain (and ate Advil like candy.)  After waking up from surgery, the nurse asked me if I was in any pain and I said I was.  This surprised her since I had a nerve block that was supposed to take care of my pain for up to 24 hours. (not a good sign.) My heel felt like it was on fire and she said that was from the cast.  I then told her the top of my foot hurt at a level 5-6.  She immediately got me some crackers and gave me 2 different kind of pain meds.  It took a while, but my pain level did go down enough so that I could get into our car and go home.

The nurse told me in order to stay ahead of the pain, I needed to take the pain meds on time, so when I got home, I set my iPhone alarm and took the meds right on time.  This worked through the first night.  The second night home, some friends were over bringing food and flowers and while I was trying to visit (although it is all very hazy) my pain level suddenly started ramping up like a train going down the tracks.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the nerve block had worn off (my foot felt like a dozen needles were being stuck in it) and that I was going to be in trouble pain-wise soon.  My girlfriend is an RN and immediately noticed something was wrong.  She got me up and literally put me to bed with pain meds, elevated my foot and put fresh ice on it as well.  It hurt so bad at that point I couldn’t speak and felt like I was going to throw up.  (level 9) I am lucky that was the only time my pain reached that high of a level.  Within 5 days of surgery I was completely off narcotics and OTC (Extra Strength Tylenol.)

Each week as been a new kind of pain.  One week it was the top of my foot that throbbed.  Another week it was my ankle and 2 of my toes.  Last week it was my big toe which still aches like a toothache.   At all times the incision hurts and burns and I hate having anything (including my boot) touching it as this makes the pain worse.  I get shooting pains in all areas of my foot and at different times during the day and night.  I believe this is caused by my nerves trying to heal.   So now you know the truth.  Lisfranc surgery is painful and will cause various parts of your foot to hurt off and on and at different levels all throughout recovery.  I am looking forward to the day when I can honestly say my pain level is zero today!

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