Ligaments In The Foot


Ligaments In The Foot Overview

The foot is responsible for supporting the weight of our body, allowing us to walk, run, and move easily with speed and accuracy. The Anatomy of the foot includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

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Illustration of the ankle joint.

The ankle is one of the most complex joints in the body.

Ligaments are soft tissue made of collagen and attach bone to bone. On the lateral or outside of the ankle, three major ligaments run from the lateral malleolus of the fibula. Two of these, the anterior talofibular ligament and the posterior talofibular ligament, attach to the talus. The third calcaneofibular ligament attaches to the calcaneus or heel bone. There are several more ligaments in the foot on the inside or medial side of the ankle joint. On the sole, you will find the plantar fascia, which helps to support the arch of the foot and provide balance and strength for walking.    You can also split ligaments in the foot into groups, including ligaments stabilizing the ankle joint, ligaments in the upper ankle, ligaments of the Subtalar joint, and ligaments in the foot.

Ligaments in the Foot:

  • Ligaments Stabilizing the Ankle Joint:
    • The anterior Talo-fibular ligament (outside or lateral ankle joint).
    • The Calcaneo-fibular ligament (outside or lateral ankle joint).
    • The posterior Talo-fibular ligament (outside or lateral ankle joint).
    • The Deltoid ligament (inside or medial ankle joint).
  • Ligaments of the Upper Ankle (Holding the tibia and fibula together):
    • The Anterior Inferior Tibiofibular Ligament.
    • The Interosseous Ligament.
  • Ligaments of the Subtalar Joint:
    • The Cervical Ligament.
  • Ligaments of the Foot:
    • The Lisfranc Ligaments.
    • The Intermetatarsal Ligaments.
    • The joint capsule of the Great Toe.

While the bones in the foot can fracture, other common injuries and conditions of the foot include foot sprain, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, and flat fee. Potentially the most serious foot injuries are when tearing of ligaments in the foot occurs. Ligaments in the foot are strong and flexible. They hold the bones throughout your body together.   A sprain is a torn ligament in the foot. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment by an orthopedic surgeon or conservative treatment, which may include physical therapy, may be required to treat a torn ligament in the foot.

Ligament Injuries

Torn ligaments in the foot can occur from a range of physical activities, from dancing to running to football, volleyball, and skiing.

Image of a lateral ankle showing bones and ligaments with labels for anterior talofibular ligament, anterior calcaneofibular ligament, and posterior calcaneofibular ligament

Ankle Ligaments

Several common symptoms can arise from a torn ligament in the foot, including:

  • Swelling and bruising at the site of injury.
  • Pain and tenderness concentrated on the top, bottom, or the sides of your foot near the arch.
  • Pain intensifies when walking or during other physical activity.
  • Inability to bear weight on the injured foot.

Tears in the ligaments of the foot are graded from I to III.  Minor sprains resulting from small tears to your ligaments are often referred to as grade I. These types of tears generally heal on their own within a few weeks. Larger tears to your foot’s ligaments or grade II sprains require more attention.  Grade II sprains usually require a splint or cast crutches for walking and can take up to eight weeks to heal. Grade III sprains are the most severe, where the ligaments in the foot are completely torn or detached from the bones of the foot. In those situations, surgery may be the appropriate option. Recovery can take a full year and require extensive physical therapy for the months following surgery.

To correctly diagnose a torn ligament in the foot, your doctor will usually take imaging of your foot to confirm the location and severity of the injury and help you decide the correct form of treatment needed.

To make an appointment with a JOI Rehab Center, please call 904-858-7045.

Related Articles: Shin Splints,

Achilles Tendon Injuries

Understanding Heel Pain

Jones Fracture 

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By: Lisa Boddie

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