The Grumpy Ankle Part 3 – The Other Deltoid

Yes! Here in the ankle lies the other deltoid. It is a ligament and different to the more familiar deltoid that moves the shoulder. The deltoid can also be referred to as the medial ligament of the ankle and is hugely important for both the stability and function of the foot.

Structure and Location:

Deltoid ligaments are thick and fibrous consisting of 2 layers with multiple smaller ligaments combining to form the complex. There is a superficial and a deep layer which is broad and fan shaped across the inside of the foot. Injuries to the deltoid ligament are not as common as to the lateral ankle complex or syndesmosis (high ankle) sprains.[1] This is due to its function, position and strong structural make-up.

The deltoid is located on the inside of the ankle joint and secures the bottom of the shin bone (tibia) to the small bones of the foot. Its main role is to resist the ankle rolling out or everting too far away from the midline.

How do you know if a deltoid ligament is involved?

Injury to the deltoid ligament will cause swelling, pain and tenderness around the inside of the ankle joint and sometimes bruising will develop below the inside of the ankle bone. If there is a deltoid ligament injury present it is vital to properly assess the lateral complex, fibula and syndesmosis due to the high correlation of these injuries occurring together.[2]  In these more severe ruptures an MRI and/or X-ray is vital to assess the extent of damage and make the best decision for treatment. Often surgery is required in serious cases where there is an unstable fracture present or the syndesmosis is too disrupted.

More commonly the deltoid ligament is partially torn. For these lower grade or less severe injuries, the deltoid ligament component to the injury can be missed and not treated properly causing long-term pain and a longer return to previous levels of activity.

What can Physio do?!

Your physio is really important in diagnosing and treating all the structures involved in an injury so that you can get back to normal! If you have suffered any kind of ankle sprain, a thorough injury assessment is vital to appropriately start rehabbing your strength, balance and proprioception and reduce the likelihood of re-injury.

Many patients suffering ankle injuries do not seek physio treatment. Poor management can end up with prolonged recovery and chronic ankle issues or impingement pain syndromes developing –click here to read more –

Give our Physio team at Sydney’s Bend + Mend a call on 9232 5566 to discuss whether physio is the right treatment for you.



[1] Stufkens, S. A., et al. (2012). The diagnosis and treatment of deltoid ligament lesions in supination-external rotation ankle fractures: a review. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction7(2), 73–85.

[2] Lynch S. A. (2002). Assessment of the Injured Ankle in the Athlete. Journal of athletic training37(4), 406–412.

Lauren Stein

About Lauren Stein

Lauren has a special interest in treating sports injuries stemming from her own experiences and injuries playing soccer and futsal at a high level. Spending hours at the Physio sparked her interest in one day becoming a Physio herself! Lauren has worked on the sidelines with Rugby Union teams and, in addition to helping athletes, she has particular interest in neck and lower back pain as well as knee and ankle injuries. Lauren incorporates both manual therapy techniques and selects specific exercises to best motivate and get speedy improvements for her clients. When she’s out of the clinic you can find Lauren out visiting family in Orange, exploring the restaurants and beaches of Sydney or buried in a good novel.

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