Ankle Bones 101: A Comprehensive Guide

By Bridget Bigale, PTA

Understanding the Bones in the Ankle

Our bodies are composed of intricate systems working in harmony to facilitate movement and function. One such crucial part is the ankle, a complex joint formed by numerous bones in the ankle, each with its unique purpose. This article provides a comprehensive guide into the world of the bones of the foot and ankle, their importance, function, anatomy, and common conditions associated with them.

The Vital Role of Ankle Bones

The ankle bone is indispensable for our daily lives, supporting us as we walk, run, jump, and even stand. These bones in the ankle bear the body’s weight, providing a stable platform for movement. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to perform even the simplest of tasks.

What are the 7 Bones in the Ankle Called?

The 7 bones in the ankle are: Talus, Calcaneus, Navicular, Cuboid, Cuneiform. The ankle also includes the lower portion of your two leg bones the Tibia and Fibula.

Diagram of the human ankle bone anatomy. JOI Rehab

Bones of the Human Ankle

The ankle joint, also known as the talocrural joint, is a sophisticated hinge that connects the lower bones of the leg to the foot. It plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s weight and enabling mobility. The ankle bones, forming an integral part of the ankle bones anatomy, not only provide structure but also serve as a foundation for muscles and ligaments that aid in movement and stability.

Anatomy of the Human Ankle

The ankle joint is located above the foot, where the lower leg and the top of the foot come together. Involving about 7 major bones, the bones in the ankle are the bottom portions of the 2 lower leg bones: the Tibia and Fibula.  As mentioned, the ankle consists of three primary bones, each with a unique shape and function. The tibia, also known as the shinbone, is the larger and stronger of the two leg bones. The fibula is smaller and runs parallel to the tibia. The talus, the primary ankle foot bone, sits at the top of the foot, acting as a connecting point between the leg and foot.

the tibia and fibula are upper ankle bones. JOI Rehab

Tibia and Fibula

These two bottom portions of the lower leg bones sit on top of the Talus, which form the tibiotalar joint. Along the bottom aspect of the Talus, this bone sits on the top of the Calcaneus or heel of the foot. This region where the Talus and the Calcaneus come together creates the Subtalar joint.

Moving forward, towards the top and inside regions of the foot, the Talus joins together to form the Talonavicular joint at the Navicular bone. Similarly, the calcaneus joins the outer region of the foot at the Cuboid bone to form the Calcaneocuboid joint. The two bones, the Cuboid, and Navicular bones, then join 3 smaller bones of the Cuneiform (lateral, middle, and medial). The 2 cuneiform bones (lateral and middle) join the calcaneus to form the Calcaneocuboid joint.

Many bones come together to form the various joints of the ankle/foot complex. These work together to allow for movement of the ankle and ankle. They contribute to your ability to walk, push off, and/or pivot to change directions. The ankle is composed of three main bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. These ankle bones are part of the bones in the ankle, with the tibia and fibula forming the lower section of the leg and the talus being the uppermost bone in the foot. These bones intertwine in a way that allows for various movements, including flexion, extension, inversion, and eversion.

Functions of the Ankle Bones

Each ankle foot bone in the ankle has a specific function, contributing to the joint’s overall effectiveness. Some bones provide stability, others facilitate movement, and some protect the joint from injury. Together, these functions allow the ankle joint bone anatomy to perform a wide range of motions.

Here is a list of the bones of the ankle.

  • Tibia.
  • Fibula.
  • Talus.
  • Calcaneus.
  • Navicular.
  • Cuboid.
  • Cuneiform (lateral, middle, medial).
Foot bones diagram showing all the bones and ligaments of the foot and ankle. JOI Rehab

Illustration of the Bones in the Foot and Ankle

What is the Bone that sticks out on the side of your Ankle?

The bone that sticks out along the outside of the ankle is the lateral malleolus. This bone is specifically the bottom, outside portion of the Fibula. The inside region of the ankle is the medial malleolus.

Bones in the Ankle Injuries

Injuries to the ankle joint is one of the most common in the body. Along the outside regions of the ankle, the supporting ligaments can become stretched or torn (partially or completely). Consequently, this causes instability of the ankle joint.  Ankle bone injuries, such as a fractured ankle or a broken ankle bone, are prevalent, especially among athletes and individuals who lead active lifestyles. These injuries range from minor sprains to severe fractures, affecting the ankle’s function and causing discomfort.

Ankle Sprain

A typical ankle sprain occurs when a patient steps onto an uneven surface and falls, causing injury to the supportive ligaments of the ankle. Additionally, this fall stretches some of the ligaments located along the outside region of the ankle, which usually results in increased pain, swelling, and tenderness.  Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together are stretched or torn, resulting in pain and swelling. Fractures, on the other hand, involve a break in one or more of the ankle bones, such as a broken fibula ankle or a fractured ankle. These conditions require immediate medical attention to prevent long-term damage.

A Helpful Tip from JOI Rehab 

Attached is a helpful guide to Ankle Resistance Band Exercises that you can do at home to help strengthen your ankles.

Flyer showing Ankle Exercises using resistance against the ankle. JOI Rehab

Ankle Exercises Picture

If you have questions about what exercises you should do, give JOI Rehab a call and we can help you.  Our goal is to help you live a healthy lifestyle with ankle or foot pain.

Ankle Fracture

Another injury that can occur to the ankle is called a fracture. A fracture usually occurs in severe circumstances where the bottom of the Fibula (outside region of the ankle) is separated or broken. This injury typically occurs when the foot is fixed against an object and is thrown into the inverted position. This causes the ligaments of the outside regions of the ankle to be stressed or torn again, resulting in increased pain, swelling, and/or tenderness.

Image of a patient holding their ankle due to the ankle pain from an ankle fracture. JOI Rehab

Ankle Fracture

Treatment Options for Ankle Bone Conditions

Treatment options for conditions like an ankle bone broken or a fractured ankle vary depending on the severity of the injury. Minor sprains may be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), while severe fractures may require surgery. In all cases, a physician should be consulted to determine the best course of treatment.

Understanding the bones in the ankle is essential for maintaining overall foot health. By staying informed about the ankle bones anatomy, you can help prevent injuries and ensure your ankles continue to support you in all your movements. If you suspect an ankle injury, such as a broken fibula ankle or a fractured ankle, give JOI a call.  JOI foot and ankle orthopedic physicians are Northeast Florida’s most respected orthopedic practice.

If you have an injury that limits your ability to walk or stand for prolonged periods of time, give us a call.  We can help if you are experiencing pain, tenderness, or swelling of the ankle.  The team at JOI and JOI Rehab can help you with all of your foot and ankle injuries and conditions.

By: Bridget Bigale, PTA

Related Articles:

Related Video which can really help you: Basic Ankle Exercises Video 

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