Ankle Anatomy: The 8 Different Types of Ankle Breaks You Can Sustain

While we don’t always think about it, our ability to stand in the morning, walk to the car, run in sports, jump over obstacles, and pivot at a moment’s notice, is all thanks to our ankles. Composed of 4 bones, and 2 joints, our ankles are susceptible to all kinds of breaks from trips, missteps, falls, heavy impacts, sports, and automobile accidents. If not treated properly, the fracture can lead to long-term complications such as reduced range of motion and mobility. With broken ankles being so common, here is what you need to know about the types of breaks that can happen.

Myth: The Ankle’s Anatomy Is Not One Single Joint

Before we jump right into the breaks you can experience, it is important to understand the anatomy of the ankle and how it joins together. While ankles are often referred to as a single joint, it is actually made up of 2.

1. Joint One - The True Ankle Joint. This is an ankle joint that you know as your ankle. It is made up of 3 different bones that work together to form the inside, outside, and heel portions of your ankle. The bones are:

l The tibia is what you know as your shinbone. This is the larger and longer bone in your leg that runs all the way down your leg to form the inside part of your ankle.

l The fibula is what you know to be your calf bone. It runs along the lateral side of the tibia and serves as the main way for your muscles to attach in the leg. This bone runs all the way down your leg and forms the outside part of the ankle.

l The talus bone(s) is a grouping of very small bones that form the tarsus, which is what shapes the lower portion of your ankle joint. It runs between the tibia and fibula, and the calcaneus, which is your heel bone.

2. Joint Two - The Subtalar Joint. This joint is found at the meeting point between the talus and the calcaneus in your ankle. It is a “gliding” joint which allows you to tilt the sole of your foot either away from or towards your body.