Ankle Joint Surgery – An Introduction to Ankle Fusion

The ankle joint is a very important part of the body. It is made of the following

  • The lower end of the shinbone also known as the tibia
  • The smaller bone of the lower leg known as the fibula
  • The tibia and the fibula form a socket into which another small bone fits, and this is called as the talus

Apart from these three major bones, the ankle joint is lined with Articular Cartilage on its inside. The cartilage is about a quarter of an inch thick and if there is any damage occurring to it due to arthritis or any other reason, the pain caused by it can be very severe.

ankle joint
The ankle joint provides stability to the lower leg through plantar and dorsi flexion

Functions of the Ankle Joint

The main purpose of the ankle joint is to provide stability to the lower leg when it is performing various activities. Primarily, an ankle joint performs only two kinds of motions:

  • Plantar Flexion

This is said to occur when the heel is above the surface of the ground and the toes are in contact with it. The force provided by this motion propels the limb to lift of the ground and start. In simple terms, it is a motion in which the foot bends or twists in a downwards angle.

  • Dorsi Flexion:

In this motion, the foot’s dorsum is brought closer to the surface of the leg. The heel is in contact with the ground whereas the toes are raised at an upward angle. The foot moves in an upwards angle in this case. The ankle attains it most stable configuration when the entire weight of the torso is supported by the lower limb.

Apart from this, the ankle joint also helps in maintaining the upper body erect. This is achieved by the combination of these three factors, which make up the ankle joint anatomy:

  • Center of Gravity
    • Lies just ahead of the ankle joint
    • Moves the body forward near the joint
    • Attains the dorsi flexion position
    • Attains stability once at this position
  • Support of Ankle Joint
    • No support to or from the ligaments in the anterior or the posterior parts
  • Muscle Activity
    • Is present to make sure that the joint is in a neutral position
    • Force of gravity is counterbalanced by the action of triceps
    • The ankle joint dorsi flexes under the action of gravity
    • Stable position in dorsi flexion is immediately attained
    • Surae muscles help in plantar flexion of the ankle joint
    • Further dorsi flexion is restricted so that the body may be erect and standing.

Ankle fusion is done when there is a lot of wear and tear to the articular cartilage which causes cartilage damage. Ankle joint surgery or ankle fusion is carried out to promote or place a fuse between the talus and the tibia, bringing about a change. This procedure can help in relieving the pain caused by damage to the articular cartilage. The surgery is carried out after a proper foot pain diagnosis.

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