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Foot & Ankle anatomy

What is the Normal Anatomy of the Foot and Ankle?

The foot and ankle form complex joints that are involved in movement and providing stability and balance to the body. The foot and ankle consist of 26 bones, 33 joints, and many muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Bones of the Ankle

The ankle joint connects the leg with the foot and is composed of three bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. The tibia or shinbone and fibula or calf bone are bones of the lower leg, which articulate with the talus or ankle bone, enabling up and down movement of the foot.

Three bony bumps present on the ends of the tibia and fibula form parts of the ankle joint:

  • The medial malleolus, formed by the tibia, is found on the inside of the ankle.
  • The posterior malleolus, also formed by the tibia, is found at the back of the ankle.
  • The lateral malleolus, formed by the fibula, is found on the outer aspect of the ankle.

Bones of the Feet

The foot acts as a single functional unit, but can be divided into three parts: the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot.

The hindfoot forms the ankle and heel, and is made up of the talus bone and calcaneus or heel bone. The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot.

The midfoot connects the hindfoot to the forefoot, and consists of one navicular bone, one cuboid bone, and three cuneiform bones. The navicular bone is found in front of the heel bone, and the cuneiform and cuboid bones are arranged in front of the navicular bone.

These bones are connected to five metatarsal bones of the forefoot that form the arch of the foot for shock absorption while walking or running. The forefoot is also made up of the toes or digits, formed by bones called phalanges - three in each toe, except the big toe, which has only two phalanges. The big toe has two additional tiny round sesamoid bones in the ball of the foot, which helps in upward and downward movements of the toe.

Ankle and Foot Joints

There are 33 joints in the ankle and foot. They include:

  • Hinge joints in the ankle, which allow flexion (bending) and extension
  • Gliding joints found in the hindfoot, which allow gliding movements
  • Condyloid joints found in the forefoot and toes, which allow the flexion (bending) and extension, adduction, and abduction (sideward movement).

The joints of the foot and ankle provide stability and support the weight of your body, helping you to walk or run, and adapt to uneven grounds.

Soft Tissues of the Ankle and Foot 

Our feet and ankle bones are held in place and supported by various soft tissues such as cartilage, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bursae.

The joint surface of all the bones of the ankle and foot are lined by a thin, tough, flexible, and slippery surface called the articular cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber and cushion to reduce friction between the bones. The cartilage is lubricated by synovial fluid, which further enables smooth movement of the bones.

Ligaments are tough rope-like tissue that connect bones to other bones, and hold them in place, providing stability to the joints. The plantar fascia is the largest ligament in the foot, originating from the heel bone to the forefoot, it extends along the lower side of the foot and is involved in maintaining the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia ligament stretches and contracts to provide balance and strength to the foot. Lateral ligaments on the outside of the foot and medial ligaments on the inside of the foot provide stability and allow up and down movement of the foot.

The foot is made up of 20 muscles that help in movement. The main muscles include:

  • Anterior tibial muscle, which allows up and down movement of the foot
  • Posterior tibial muscle, which supports the arch
  • Peroneal tibial muscle, which controls movement on the outside of the ankle
  • Extensors, which enable the ankle to raise the toes just before stepping forward
  • Flexors, which stabilize the toes against the floor
  • Smaller muscles that help the toes to lift and curl

Tendons are soft tissues that connect muscles to bones. The largest and strongest tendon in the foot is the Achilles tendon, present at the back of the lower leg around the heel bone. Other tendons include peroneal and anterior and posterior tibialis.

Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that decrease friction between tendons and bone or skin. They contain special cells called synovial cells that secrete a lubricating fluid.

Ankle Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ankle Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in a joint as a result of cartilage degeneration causing joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and restricted movement. Arthritis of the foot and ankle joint can occur due to fractures, dislocation, inflammatory disease, or congenital deformity.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle Sprain

A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments connect adjacent bones and provide stability to a joint. An ankle sprain is a common injury that occurs when you suddenly fall or twist the ankle joint, or when you land your foot in an awkward position after a jump.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord present behind the ankle that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is used when you walk, run and jump.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that is present at the bottom of the foot. It runs from the heel bone to the toes and forms the arch of your foot.

Ankle Fractures

Ankle Fractures

Ankle injuries are very common in athletes and individuals performing physical work; often resulting in severe pain and impaired mobility. Pain after ankle injuries can either be from a torn ligament (ankle sprain) or broken bone (ankle fracture).

Ankle Instability

Ankle Instability

The joints of the ankle are held in place and stabilized by strong bands of tissue called ligaments. Ankle instability is a chronic condition characterized by a recurrent slipping of the outer side of the ankle.

Foot Fracture

Foot Fracture

Trauma and repeated stress can cause fractures in the foot. Extreme force is required to fracture the bones in the hindfoot. The most common type of foot fracture is a stress fracture that occurs when repeated activities produce small cracks in the bones.

Foot and Ankle Trauma

Foot and Ankle Trauma

Foot and ankle trauma refers to injuries that most commonly occur during sports, exercise or any other physical activity. Trauma may be a result of accidents, poor training practices or use of improper gear.

Ankle Ligament Injury

Ankle Ligament Injury

Ligaments are made up of elastic tissues that interconnect bones to one another. They bind the joint together, providing stability and support to the joint. The ligaments protect the ankle joint from abnormal rotation and stabilize the joint during movement.

Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints as a result of degeneration of the smooth cartilage that lines the ends of bones in a joint. This degeneration of the cartilages leads to painful rubbing of the bones, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, resulting in restricted movements.

Foot Pain

Foot Pain

The foot is composed of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. As your feet bear the weight of your entire body, they are more prone to injury and pain.

Flatfoot

Flatfoot

Flatfoot, also known as “fallen arches” or Pes planus, is a deformity in children’s feet where the arch that runs along the sole of the foot collapses to the ground or is not formed at all.

Nerve Conditions of the Foot

Nerve Conditions of the Foot

The foot is composed of bones, ligaments, nerves, muscles, and tendons. Nerve conditions of the foot can range from minor nerve injuries to serious conditions like nerve entrapment and damage.

Heel Pain

Heel Pain

Heel pain is a common symptom of excessive strain placed on the structures that form the heel.

Stress Fractures of Foot and Ankle

Stress Fractures of Foot and Ankle

A stress fracture is described as a small crack in the bone which occurs from an overuse injury of a bone. It commonly develops in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot.

Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small, soft, flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into the ankle joint to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions.

Achilles Tendon Repair

Achilles Tendon Repair

The Achilles tendon is often injured during sports activities, resulting in an inflammatory condition called tendonitis, which is characterized by swelling and pain.

Treatment of Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries

Treatment of Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries

Injuries during sports are common. They can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises

Brostrom Repair

Brostrom Repair

Brostrom repair is a surgical procedure that involves the repair and reconstruction of injured ligaments on the outside of the ankle to treat ankle instability.

Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

A sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament. Ligaments connect adjacent bones in a joint and provide stability to the joint.

Ankle Instability Surgery

Ankle Instability Surgery

generally noticed during movement of the ankle joint, but can also occur while standing.

Foot Injections

Foot Injections

Foot injections are steroids that are injected into your foot to relieve pain and inflammation. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the human body and functions to reduce stress and inflammation.

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Delta Orthopaedics

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Antioch, CA 94509 USA