The ankle joint is formed by the connection of 3 bones, the talus of the foot and the fibula and tibia of the lower leg. The talus fits inside a socket that is formed by the lower ends of the tibia and fibula. The ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down. The bottom of the talus sits on top of a bone called the calcaneus (heel bone) forming the sub-talar joint. The in and out movement of the foot occurs at this joint.
Inside the joint the bones are covered by cartilage designed to allow smooth joint movement, also providing shock absorption.
The ankle joint is reinforced by ligaments that connect the bones , stabilizing the joint and preventing excessive movement. The longest of these ligaments, the plantar fascia forms the arch on the sole of the foot from the heel to the toes. By stretching and contracting, gives the foot strength to initiate walking. Smaller ligaments control inward and outward movement of the foot.
Tendons of the foot connect muscles to the bones. Tendons are often threatened by ankle injury. The largest and strongest tendon being the Achilles tendon that joins the calf muscle to the heel. Without the Achilles tendon we would not be able to run, jump or walk up stairs.
Twenty muscles are present in the foot giving the foot its shape by supporting the bones. Smaller muscles enable the toes to lift and curl. The strong muscles of the lower leg whose tendons pass by the ankle attach to the foot causing most movement of the ankle.
It is the complexity of the ankle joint allows it to function as we are used to. Ankle injury or disease produces pain, limits its functional ability and causes disability.
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