Anatomy of the Ankle

The foot is connected to the leg by the ankle joint.  Walking, running, and jumping would be very difficult to do without the ankle.  Any foot movement, in fact, would be difficult or even impossible to do if it weren’t for the ankle joint.

The ankle is a large joint comprised of bones, joints, muscles, soft tissues (ligaments and tendons), nerves, and blood vessels.  All of these work together to provide the stability and the propulsion necessary for normal ankle function.

Bones and Joints

The ankle joint is made up of two joints, the true ankle joint and the subtalar ankle joint.  The true ankle joint allows for up and down movement of the foot.  It is comprised of three bones – the tibia on the inside, the fibula on the outside, and the talus on the underside.   The subtular ankle joint allows for side to side movement and is comprised of two bones – the talus on the topside and the calcaneus on the underside.  The two joints work together to allow the ankle joint to work like a hinge.


The strong muscles in the lower leg contract to cause most of the ankle’s motion.  The peroneals move the ankle down and out.  The calf muscles cause the ankle to bend down.  The posterior tibialis muscle turns the foot inward.  The anterior tibialis moves the ankle upward.

Soft Tissues

Ligaments attach bones to bones.  Tendons attach muscle to bones.  Ligaments and tendons are both made of collagen fibers that are bundled together.  The bundles come in various sizes and thicknesses to provide different degrees of strength.

The true ankle joint and the subtalar ankle joint are held together by cartilage and ligaments.  The lateral ligament complex is on the outside of the ankle, and the deltoid ligament is on the inside of the ankle.  A set of three ligaments supports the section of the ankle where the bottom end of the fibula meets the tibia.  Articular cartilage covers the bones inside the ankle joint and allows the bones to move smoothly against each other.  A joint capsule made of ligaments and the soft tissue between them surrounds the ankle joint.

Tendons provide support for the ankle joint.  The posterior tibial tendon supports the arch and enables the foot to turn inward.  The anterior tibial tendon enables the foot to be raised.  The peroneals enable the foot to turn down and out.

Nerves and Blood Vessels

Nerves provide sensation to the foot.  Blood vessels work to supply blood to all parts of the foot.  Most of the nerves and blood vessels run along the outside and top of the foot.  The nerves and blood vessels that go to the foot also provide sensation and blood to the ankle joint.

If you are feeling any type of ankle pain or discomfort, please schedule a consultation at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches.  One of our highly-skilled foot surgeons will be happy to discuss your pain, your lifestyle, and the steps necessary to ensure that you are back to your best self.  Contact us today at 904-241-1204 or online at!

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