The Spring is Back in Her Step

Melissa Stretching

An accident in the Ozarks led Melissa to ORA

Melissa Headshot
Melissa Henrekin

Birdsong, bikers, walkers, and runners have made a comeback to Quad City area trails as spring makes a welcome return. Among the recreational athletes grateful to be back on the paths is 43-year old Melissa Henrekin, who says this spring is especially sweet following successful foot surgery at ORA Orthopedics.

Melissa says she came to running as an adult, jogging the country roads of her north central Illinois home in rural Deer Grove, east of the Quad Cities near Sterling- Rock Falls. However, a relatively uncommon foot injury kept her from the sport she loves the most.

“I’ve always worked out, but running was my way to relieve the stress and grief of losing our young, special-needs daughter in 2008. While I used to run track in high school, I came back to it again, albeit slowly. I would just alternate walking then running from one telephone pole to the next until I was running consistently. Eventually, I ran my first half marathon in 2021!”

But while vacationing in the Ozarks, Melissa twisted her foot while disembarking from a boat. “I was stepping back onto the dock when my flip-flop caught and twisted my foot. I thought I had just twisted my ankle, but there was persistent pain on the top of my midfoot that just never went away.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t walk, the pain just got worse.”

Dr. Collazo shares Melissa had a “Lisfranc” injury

A visit to ORA’s Urgent OrthoCARE Clinic revealed an injury in a group of ligaments and bones supporting the midfoot called the “Lisfranc” area of the foot’s skeletal structure.

ORA Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Christopher Collazo, says Lisfranc injuries are usually more common in athletes such as football and soccer players who often pivot and twist their feet on the field. “Lisfranc injuries refer to the midfoot over the arch where ligaments and bones help stabilize and propel the foot forward.

Dr. Collazo, ORA Orthopedics

“In high-impact sports, the foot can twist and pop the ligament, which can result in broken midfoot bones. Basically, Melissa suffered a Lisfranc fracture and dislocation when her foot twisted and injured her ligament, leading her to breaking several bones in the middle of her foot.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the severity of a Lisfranc injury can vary widely — from a simple injury involving one midfoot joint to a complex injury involving many midfoot joints and broken bones.

“Midfoot fracture dislocations are named after French surgeon Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin, who served in the Napoleonic Army in the 1800s, and observed midfoot injuries in cavalry soldiers.”

Dr. Collazo adds, “It’s easy for patients to mistake a simple Lisfranc injury for being just a sprain, especially if the injury is a result of a twist and fall.

“However, injury to the Lisfranc ligament/joint is not a simple sprain that should be just ‘walked off’ or expected to heal quickly. Lisfranc injuries are severe enough to take months to heal.”

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Back on her feet and ready to conquer the Bix this summer

Melissa recalls, “He told me treating these injuries was right in his wheelhouse and that I had a good chance of making a full recovery. My goal was to run again, so I felt very confident and trusted his expertise. He told me, ‘I want to get you back to where you were before.’”

Dr. Collazo recommended a procedure called an “open reduction and fusion.” Melissa agreed and underwent the two-hour outpatient surgery. Dr. Collazo realigned her midfoot joints and fused several bones to stabilize them into place. “Her surgery was uneventful and throughout her 3-month rehab, she’s hit every milestone successfully. It’s always gratifying to see my patients return to the activities they enjoy the most.”

Now Melissa is taking her training one step at a time as her life picks up the pace. “I am working out, finishing my degree online at Western Illinois University, and I have my eye on the Bix this summer.

“If you would have told me last summer I’d be running in the spring, I’m not sure if I would have believed it was possible, because I was in so much pain. But through surgery and rehab, I kept telling myself, ‘I didn’t come this far not to recover,’ so I just did everything Dr. Collazo told me to do, and he was right. I couldn’t be happier with my overall experience.”

Melissa Trail

See you on Brady Street Hill, Melissa!