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ankle

Picture of the Ankle

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

The ankle is a large joint made up of three bones:

  • The shin bone (tibia)
  • The thinner bone running next to the shin bone (fibula)
  • A foot bone that sits above the heel bone (talus)

The bony bumps (or protrusions) seen and felt on the ankle have their own names:

  • The medial malleolus, felt on the inside of your ankle is part of the tibia's base
  • The posterior malleolus, felt on the back of your ankle is also part of the tibia's base
  • The lateral malleolus, felt on the outside of your ankle is the low end of the fibula

The ankle joint allows up-and-down movement of the foot. The subtalar joint sits below the ankle joint, and allows side-to-side motion of the foot. Numerous ligaments (made of tough, moveable tissue) surround the true ankle and subtalar joints, binding the bones of the leg to each other and to those of the foot.

Ankle Conditions

  • Sprained ankle: Damage to one of the ligaments in the ankle, usually from an accidental twist or turn of the foot. Rehabilitation can prevent pain and swelling from becoming a long-term problem.
  • High ankle sprain: The ligament joining the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula), called the syndesmotic ligament, is injured. A high ankle sprain causes pain and swelling similar to a true ankle sprain, but can take longer to heal.
  • Ankle fracture: A break in any of the three bones in the ankle. Most commonly, the bones of the lower leg (tibia or fibula) is fractured.
  • Ankle arthritis: While it’s not common, osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, can affect the ankle.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune form of arthritis in which the body attacks joint tissue, causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. Any joint may be affected by rheumatoid arthritis, including the ankle.
  • Gout: A form of arthritis in which crystals periodically deposit in joints, causing severe pain and swelling. The ankle may sometimes be affected by gout.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This form of arthritis, which causes swelling and pain, is associated with the skin condition psoriasis. Many joints, including the ankle, may be affected by psoriasis.
  • Septic arthritis: Caused by bacterial infections that may occur in the ankle, this form of arthritis develops quickly, causing severe pain, swelling, fever, and difficulty moving the ankle.

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