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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. 

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Foot & Ankle Conditions

  • Ankle FractureAnkle Fracture

    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).

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  • Achilles TendinitisAchilles Tendinitis

    The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg and connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The tendon is used when you walk, climb, jump, run and stand on your tip toes.

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  • Achilles Tendon RuptureAchilles 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. The Achilles tendon ruptures most often in athletes participating in sports that involve running, pivoting and jumping. Recreational sports that may cause Achilles rupture include tennis, football, basketball, and gymnastics.

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  • Ankle InstabilityAnkle 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. It usually results from repeated ankle sprains, which are injuries to the ligaments. Ankle instability is generally noticed when you move your ankle joint but can also occur while standing.

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  • Ankle Ligament InjuryAnkle 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.

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  • Ankle Rheumatoid ArthritisAnkle 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. The foot joints most commonly affected by arthritis are:

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  • Ankle SprainAnkle 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. Most commonly, it occurs when you participate in sports, or jump or run on a surface that is irregular.

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  • Athlete's FootAthlete's Foot

    Athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection that forms on the skin of the foot. It is characterized by itchy, moist, white, scaly lesions between the toes that can spread to the sole of the foot. Athlete’s foot is contagious and spreads through contact with infected skin scales or fungi in moist areas such as swimming pools and bathrooms, or from sharing shoes of an infected person or having contact with pets carrying the fungi. It is a chronic infection that can recur after treatment.

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  • BunionBunion

    A bunion is a bony protuberance that appears on the outer surface of the big toe when it angles toward the adjacent toe. It is an extra bone and a fluid-filled sac that grows at the base of the big toe.

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  • Congenital Deformity and ClubfootCongenital Deformity and Clubfoot

    Congenital deformities of the lower limbs are developmental disorders that are present at birth, causing alterations in the shape and appearance of the legs. Several factors such as genetics, teratogenic drugs, and chemicals can cause congenital deformities.

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  • CornsCorns

    A corn is a circular area of thickened skin developed because of continuous friction or pressure. They usually develop on the soles of feet or on the top or sides of toes and appear as yellowish dead tissue surrounding an area of tenderness. Pain and discomfort may be present with walking, which can become more painful without treatment.

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  • Diabetic Foot ConditionsDiabetic Foot Conditions

    Diabetes is a chronic condition that is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Diabetic patients are at high risk for developing chronic wounds, especially in the feet. If left untreated, these wounds can cause serious problems that can lead to infections and eventually gangrene, which may require amputation.

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  • FlatfootFlatfoot

    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. Flatfoot is normal in the first few years of life as the arch of the foot usually develops between the age of 3 and 5 years.

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  • Foot and Ankle ArthritisFoot 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. Arthritis in the foot and ankle can occur due to fractures, dislocation, inflammatory disease, or congenital deformity. The foot joints most commonly affected by arthritis are:

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  • Foot and Ankle TraumaFoot and Ankle Trauma

    The foot and ankle work together to provide balance, stability, movement, and propulsion to the human body. Its complex anatomy consists of 26 bones, 33 joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissues.

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  • Foot FractureFoot 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.

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  • Foot PainFoot 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.

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  • Foot Rheumatoid ArthritisFoot Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Arthritis is inflammation in the joint resulting from the degeneration of cartilage causing joint pain, swelling, and stiffness resulting in restricted movements. Arthritis of the foot and ankle joint can occur due to fractures, dislocation, inflammatory disease, or congenital deformity. The foot joints most commonly affected by arthritis are:

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  • Hallux RigiditisHallux Rigiditis

    Hallux Rigiditis is a form of degenerative arthritis at the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint where the base of your big toe attaches to the foot. 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. Hallux Rigiditis is also called stiff big toe.

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  • HammertoeHammertoe

    A hammertoe is a deformity of a lesser toe (second through fifth toes), where the toe is bent upward at the toe’s middle joint, resembling a hammer. The bent portion may rub against the shoe causing pain, irritation and develop corns. 

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  • Heel CracksHeel Cracks

    Heel cracks or fissures are the splitting or cracking of the skin on the outer edge of the heel due to excessive drying and pressure that causes the skin to expand sideways. In some people, thick, hard layers of the skin (calluses) can cause flakes and deep cracks. Untreated heel fissures may cause bleeding, infection and foot ulcers.

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  • Heel FracturesHeel Fractures

    The calcaneus or heel bone is a large bone found at the rear of the foot. A heel fracture is a break in the heel bone due to trauma or various disease conditions.

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  • Heel PainHeel Pain

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

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  • Heel SpursHeel Spurs

    The heel is made up of the calcaneus bone and supported by a network of muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissues, which together support the weight of the body and stress during movement. A heel spur is a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone, which may not be visible to the naked eye.

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  • Ingrown toenailIngrown toenail

    An ingrown toenail is a common and painful condition of the toe. It occurs when the side or corner of the nail grows inwards and penetrates the skin of the toe. Pain is often accompanied by swelling and redness. The big toe is affected most often.

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  • IntoeingIntoeing

    Intoeing, also called “pigeon-toed”, is an abnormal condition characterized by the inward facing of the toe or foot instead of being straight. You may observe intoeing in your child at an early age when they start walking. Usually, intoeing corrects itself without any specific treatment as your child grows up to around 8 years of age.

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  • Lisfranc (Midfoot) FractureLisfranc (Midfoot) Fracture

    The Lisfranc joint or tarsometatarsal joint refers to the region in the middle of the foot. It is a junction between the tarsal bones (bones in the foot arch) and metatarsal bones (five long bones in the foot). Lisfranc fractures can occur due to a fall from a height or a traumatic motor vehicle accident.

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  • Mallet ToeMallet Toe

    Mallet toe is a deformity where the toe abnormally bends downward, resembling a hammer or mallet. The bones at the tip of the toe are connected by the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP). Muscle imbalance or damage to the tendons or ligaments of the DIP causes contraction and deformity. Mallet toe can be either flexible, where the joint is still movable, or rigid, where the deformity is fixed.

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  • Midfoot ArthritisMidfoot Arthritis

    Midfoot arthritis is pain and inflammation of the midfoot. It occurs due to damage of cartilage or tissues around the joints. The damage may occur due to injury, aging or autoimmunity. The foot bones are the phalanges, the metaphalanges, and the tarsal bones. The midfoot consists of 5 bones called lesser tarsal bones.

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  • Plantar FasciitisPlantar 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.

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  • Plantar WartsPlantar Warts

    Warts are harmless outgrowths on the skin caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. They grow on all body parts including face, fingers, feet, legs, hands, knees, inside your mouth, and on the genital and rectal areas. Plantar warts appear on the bottom or soles of your feet. Plantar warts can spread from one person to another with skin contact.

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  • Posterior Tibial Tendon DysfunctionPosterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

    The posterior tibial tendon passes through the ankle to attach the calf muscle with the bones of the midfoot. It provides stability to the arch and supports the foot while walking. Inflammation or a tear of this tendon as a result of injury may cause dysfunction, leading to pain and the development of a flatfoot.

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  • Sesamoid FractureSesamoid Fracture

    A sesamoid fracture is a break in the sesamoid bone. Sesamoids are two small, pea-shaped bones located in the ball beneath the big toe joint at the bottom of the foot.  Sesamoid bones are connected to muscles and other bones by tendons that envelop these bones. Sesamoids help the big toe move normally and absorb the weight placed on the ball. A podiatrist is a doctor specializing in the treatment of foot problems including sesamoid fractures.

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  • SesamoiditisSesamoiditis

    Sesamoids are two small, pea-shaped bones located in the ball beneath the big toe joint at the bottom of the foot. Sesamoid bones are connected to muscles and other bones by tendons that envelop these bones. Sesamoids help the big toe move normally and absorb the weight placed on the ball.

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  • Stress Fractures of Foot and AnkleStress 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. When the muscles of the foot are overworked or stressed, they are unable to absorb the stress and when this happens the muscles transfer the stress to the bone which results in stress fracture.

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  • Talus FracturesTalus Fractures

    The talus is a small bone at the ankle joint that connects the heel bone and the shinbones, enabling up and down movement of the foot.

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  • Toenail ConditionsToenail Conditions

    Nails are an extension of the top layer of the skin and are composed of a nail plate (top layer) and nail bed (skin below the nail plate). The nail matrix is the region where your toenail begins to grow. Nails are made of keratin (protein) and help to protect your fingers and toes from injury. Toenail conditions can range from minor infections to severe trauma. A podiatrist is a doctor specializing in the treatment of foot problems including toenail conditions.

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  • Turf ToeTurf Toe

    Turf toe is an injury to the ligament at the base of the big toe. It is a painful condition that usually results from jamming the toe into the ground or excessive backward bending of the toe. As it is more common in athletes playing on artificial turf, especially those involved in field sports such as football, baseball, and soccer, it is known as turf toe.

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Foot & Ankle Procedures

  • Achilles Tendon RepairAchilles Tendon Repair

    Tendons are the soft tissues connecting muscle to bone. The Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the body and is present behind the ankle, joining the calf muscles with the heel bone. Contraction of the calf muscles tightens the Achilles tendon and pulls the heel, enabling the foot and toe movements necessary for walking, running and jumping.

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  • Ankle ArthroscopyAnkle 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. The camera projects an image of the inside of the joint onto a large monitor, allowing your surgeon to look for any damage, assess the type of injury and repair the problem.

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  • Ankle Instability SurgeryAnkle Instability Surgery

    The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg and connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The tendon is used when you walk, climb, jump, run and stand on your tip toes.

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  • Ankle Joint ReplacementAnkle Joint Replacement

    The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg and connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The tendon is used when you walk, climb, jump, run and stand on your tip toes.

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  • Flatfoot ReconstructionFlatfoot Reconstruction

    Foot reconstruction is a surgery performed to correct the structures of the foot and restore the natural functionality of the foot that has been lost due to injury or illness. 

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  • Foot Rehabilitation Following SurgeryFoot Rehabilitation Following Surgery

    A foot injury or foot surgery may leave you immobile for a period of time. To return to your regular activities and more strenuous recreational activities, it is necessary for you to follow a well-planned activity and exercise program.

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  • Minimally Invasive Foot SurgeryMinimally Invasive Foot Surgery

    Minimally invasive foot surgery (MIFS) uses the latest advanced technology to treat foot and ankle pain caused by a variety of conditions. Special surgical instruments, devices, and advanced imaging techniques are used to visualize and perform the surgery through small incisions. The aim of MIFS is to minimize damage to the muscles and surrounding structures, enabling a faster recovery with less pain.

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  • Non-Surgical Treatment for Foot and Ankle PainNon-Surgical Treatment for Foot and Ankle Pain

    The foot and ankle is a complex joint involved in movement and providing stability and balance to the body.

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  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Athe American College of Surgeons
  • American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons