Basic Foot and Ankle Medical Terminology, Part 1

Last updated: 11-15-2020

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Basic Foot and Ankle Medical Terminology, Part 1

The medical world is full of complex language, and it can be difficult to comprehend what you’re dealing with when your doctor says you need an ankle arthrodesis or you have hallux rigidus. Today, we’re going to shed light on some of the more common medical terms you might hear in a foot and ankle surgeon’s office.
Ankle and Foot Terms

Accessory Navicular – An accessory navicular is categorized by the presence of an unusual “extra” bony continuation of the navicular bone. This extra bone can be taken care of with nonoperative and surgical methods.

Ankle Arthrodesis – An ankle arthrodesis is an operation performed to relieve pain and improve function in a patient with ankle arthritis. This procedure is sometimes called an ankle fusion.

Bunion – A bony is a bony prominence that forms on the base of where your big toe attaches to your foot. It is categorized by pain and stiffness in the joint of the big toe.

Cavus Foot – Another way to say high arches.

Charcot Foot – Charcot foot describes the breakdown of the joints of the foot in patients with diabetes and neuropathy. Patients who lose feeling in their feet are more likely to suffer fro charcot foot.

Compartment Syndrome – Abnormal pressure in one or more areas of the leg. Serious cases can cut off blood supply to the leg, and doctors always look for compartment syndrome in patients with high-energy leg injuries, like car crashes.

Digital Nerve – A nerve that runs to your toe.

Dorsiflexion – Flexing your foot upwards, towards your shin.
Edema – Another way to say swelling.

Eversion Sprain – The more rare type of ankle sprain. An eversion sprain occurs when your ankle rolls inward, stressing the medial ankle ligaments.

Extrinsic Muscles – Muscles that originate outside of the foot but cross into the foot to aid in movement.

Fibula – The smaller of the two bones between your knee and ankle.

Femur – The strongest bone in your body, the femur is also known as the thigh bone.

Foot Fracture – A break/disruption of a bone in your foot.

Intrinsic muscles – Muscles contained solely in the foot.

Inversion Sprain – The more common type of ankle sprain. An inversion sprain occurs when your ankle rolls outward, stressing the lateral ankle ligaments.

Gait – Gait is another term for your stride or the way you walk.

Gout – As we explained on this page, gout is an arthritic condition that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. A poor diet or heavy alcohol use can lead to elevated levels of uric acid, which can then crystallize in the joints of your toe and cause painful inflammation.

Hallux Rigidus – Hallux means “big toe” and rigidus means it is rigid or stiff.

Hammertoe – The abnormal curing of your smaller toes caused by flexion of the first toe joint and extension of the metatarsal phalangeal joint.

Ingrown Toenail – A toenail that is growing or putting abnormal pressure on the side of your nail bed instead of growing straight forward.


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