The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Podiatrists Weigh in on the Ravens’ Jimmy Smith and Lisfranc Injury Recovery Time

Posted by on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Share:

During the last week of April, Baltimore Ravens Cornerback Jimmy Smith finally had the screws removed from his foot. We imagine he was pretty excited – his doctors placed them there two years ago for stability after he suffered a Lisfranc sprain. If you’ve experienced a similar injury, Smith’s story may sound ominous. Do you always need surgery for Lisfranc sprain? Is it really typical to have screws placed for two years? Our podiatrists explain the recovery process.

lisfranc injury recovery time
Lisfranc injuries requiring surgery can sometimes be slow to heal. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User James Heilman)

What Happened to Jimmy Smith?

As the Baltimore Beatdown notes, 27-year-old Jimmy Smith emerged as the Ravens’ “most consistent and reliable cornerback” after being selected out of Colorado in the 2011 NFL draft. But Smith has had a rough couple of years. He only played all 16 games in two of his five seasons. In 2014, he suffered a lisfranc foot sprain in week eight and went on season-ending injury reserve.

In 2015, he registered 54 tackles, three interceptions (a career high), and his first NFL touchdown. Despite these numbers and signing a four-year contract extension worth $48 million, the Baltimore Sun reported he still wasn’t 100% nine months after his foot injury.

Smith’s recovery has been slow and hard-fought, but he is expected to be ready for training camp in July.

Hardware Removal & Lisfranc Surgery FAQs

Is Smith’s recovery process typical? Our NYC podiatrists weigh in.

Do I need Lisfranc surgery?

As Dr. Bob Anderson notes, there are many stable Lisfranc injuries that do not require surgery. In these cases, you’ll usually need to stay off your feet entirely for 2-4 weeks and then start rehab. Even if you don’t need surgery, it may still take up to two months for you to completely recover, due to the serious swelling, stretching, and ligament damage that a Lisfranc injury brings.

What happens after Lisfranc surgery?

You can expect to stay completely off your foot (meaning a cast and crutches) for about two months. From there, you’re looking at another month and a half in a walking boot. Then rehabilitation begins, usually lasting at least three months. When it’s all totaled up, you’re looking at a recovery time of roughly six to nine months.

When can I have my hardware removed?

If surgery and internal fixation are necessary to realign your mid-foot joints, you can expect to have screws placed for about four or five months, although most surgeons don’t rush to remove them. Some patients have their hardware in for 16 months or longer – as Jimmy Smith demonstrated.

Will the pain decrease after screw removal?

The results are mixed. One study found that about 50% of patients who had Lisfranc hardware removed showed improvement in pain relief four months after the removal. Surgeons typically find the hardware more difficult to take out than to put in, and beyond that, the surgery is expensive – particularly when done in a hospital setting ($14,000) versus an outpatient center ($6,800).

What risks are associated with hardware removal?

Though hardware removal is a fairly complex procedure, complications are still pretty rare. If 100 patients have their screws removed, perhaps four will develop infections and six will require another surgery to improve stiffness and range of motion, debride infected tissue, or reset a subsequent fracture.

I have no negative symptoms. Can the screws stay in after Lisfranc surgery?

Some patients may keep the screws in their feet if there are no symptoms of stiffness, swelling or pain. However, we usually like to remove the screws at some point, rather than wait for them to break or cause trouble down the line.

What is the long-term prognosis following foot hardware removal?

Post-operative recovery could take a good nine to 12 months for a full return to activities. But studies have found 65% to 92% of athletes return to pre-injury levels following a Lisfranc injury.

Lisfranc Injury Management in NYC

If you live in or near NYC, the board-certified podiatrists, podiatric surgeons, and sports medicine doctors at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine can help you treat an acute Lisfranc injury (surgically or non-surgically) and manage your rehabilitation. Contact us for details.

Share:

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.