Research Review: Mapping the Sensory Innervation of the Ankle Joint

By Nicholas Rolnick SPT, MS, CSCS

Edited by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Original Citation: Mentzel M, Fleischmann W, Bauer G, and Kinzl L. (1999). Ankle joint denervation. part 1: anatomy - the sensory innervation of the ankle joint. Foot and Ankle Surgery. 5: 15-20. ABSTRACT.

Why is this relevant?: Much of the practical aspect of being a human movement professional is built upon a foundation of functional anatomy knowledge.  Ankle pain may affect as much as 15% of middle-aged and older adults (2), which implies that functional anatomy of the ankle is a content area that should be a priority for all human movement professionals. This milestone study used a cadaveric dissection model to map the sensory innervations of the ankle joint (talocrural articulation and talocalcaneonavicular) in an effort to further understand ankle joint sensation (including nociception).

The talocalcaneonavicular joint is where the head of the talus articulates with the navicular bone, the spring ligament, the sustentaculum tali, and the articular surface of the calcaneus. - www.quizlet.com The talocalcaneonavicular joint is where the head of the talus articulates with the navicular bone, the spring ligament, the sustentaculum tali, and the articular surface of the calcaneus. - www.quizlet.com

Study Summary

Study Design Observational Dissectional Cadaveric Study
Level of Evidence Level 4
Subject Demographics

  • Age: N/A
  • Gender: N/A
  • Characteristics:

    • Protocol

      • 8 cadaver legs (2 from the same individual, the rest from 6 unique individuals) were amputated at the distal thigh and fixed in formalin.
      • The dissection was carried out on each leg looking through spectacles with magnifying loupes and underneath a microscope using hand-surgical and microsurgical instruments.
      • Sketches and photographs were made of the nerves observed in the dissection, with special emphasis on