An ankle joint: anatomy, pain, and sprain causes

What is the ankle?

The ankle is part of the musculoskeletal system and consists of two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) that meet with the foot bone (talus) to form an articulating joint. It allows us to point, flex, rotate and move our feet from side to side, as well as support our body’s weight.

It is important to understand the function of the ankle because it is prone to injury due to its complexity. Ankle sprains are one common example of injury that can affect this area. Additionally, pain in this region may be caused by other underlying conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis/tendinopathy, nerve injury, fat pad problems and fascia issues which should also be evaluated by a Physiotherapist if it persists for longer periods of time.

What are the functions of the ankle?

1. Support for the body weight

The ankle serves a vital role in supporting body weight, as it allows for movement such as walking, running, jumping and turning. It also provides stability when standing or moving on uneven terrain. The ankle joint is made up of several ligaments that help to provide stability while also allowing some flexibility for movement. The muscles surrounding the ankle also play an important role in providing balance support when standing or walking on uneven surfaces or changing direction quickly.

2. Range of motion

The range of motion of the ankle is the degree to which the foot can be moved in terms of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion.

The normal available range for dorsiflexion varies in the literature between 0-16.5° and 0-25°, depending on whether it is measured in non-weight bearing or weight bearing conditions. The maximum possible range of motion is unknown due to variations in individuals’ anatomy and physiology.

3. Stability

Stability for the ankle refers to the ability of the joint to maintain its position and resist forces that would otherwise cause it to move.

This is important because an unstable ankle can lead to serious injuries such as sprains or breaks. The body’s dynamic defence system helps protect against these injuries by providing automatic reflexes such as plantar flexion when your foot is in contact with a surface that may cause you to slip or fall. Additionally, proprioceptive inputs from joints and muscles help us maintain balance and control our movements in order to prevent falls or other accidents caused by lack of stability of the ankles. By restoring normal motoneuron activity, we can help restore normal muscle-spindle activity which will improve neuromuscular control for these joints and increase their overall stability.

4. Ability to walk, run and jump

Ankles have many functions in walking, running and jumping. They provide stability, allow for movement in multiple directions, and provide a point of contact with the ground or surface being walked or run on. Additionally, ankles help to distribute weight across the foot during walking or running, and provide momentum for jumping activities such as tennis serve or volleyball spike.

What are the causes of ankle pain?

1. Ankle Injuries and Ankle Sprains

Ankle injuries can be caused by a sudden twist or turn of the foot, landing on an uneven surface, or stepping into a hole or pothole. The twisting force can cause damage to the ligaments that hold the bones of the ankle together.

The symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising and limited movement range. It may take weeks or months for these symptoms to subside completely depending on the severity of injury and if proper care is not taken in time by seeing a Physiotherapist it could lead to long term problems such as arthritis.

2. Ankle Joint Diseases

The causes of ankle joint diseases include:

– Trauma and injury: Accidents, falls or other trauma can result in sprains or fractures of the ankle joint.

– Genetics: A family history of ankle joint disease may increase the risk of developing it yourself.

– Age: As you get older, your joints become more susceptible to wear and tear, leading to increased pain and swelling around them. Bending or twisting incorrectly can also lead to injuries that cause long term damage.

– Sports injuries: Playing sports with improper technique or without proper equipment can lead to sprains or strains in the ankles due to unexpected movements on the field.

3. Foot and Ankle Muscle Weakness

Foot and ankle muscle weakness can cause pain in the ankles due to decreased stability and reduced ability to absorb shock.

This can lead to sprains or strains, which cause weakness and inflammation of the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the ankle joint. This inflammation can lead to increased pain and tenderness in the area as well as difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time.

4. Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition where the joints become inflamed due to wear and tear, an autoimmune disease, or previous injury. It can cause severe pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints which can lead to difficulty walking.

Ankle arthritis left untreated it can lead to severe pain that interferes with daily activities which may require surgery such as an ankle fusion. This is an injury that we would heavily advice to be assessed before considering surgery to weigh up options as surgery can lead to very immobile joint that will effect ability to walk and play any sports.

If you want to get back to feeling your best and performing at your peak, then don’t wait any longer! Contact Pure Physio Sports today and schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physiotherapists. Our team is dedicated to helping you overcome your injuries and get you back on the road to recovery. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance or simply want to feel your best, Pure Physio Sports has the expertise and experience to help you achieve your goals. Don’t let your injuries hold you back any longer – take control of your health and wellbeing with Pure Physio Sports. Contact us now to schedule your appointment and start your journey to a pain-free, active lifestyle!


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