Prediction of three-dimensional contact stress and ligament tension in the ankle during stance determined from computational modeling

Naoki Haraguchi, Robert S. Armiger, Mark S. Myerson, John T. Campbell, Edmund Y.S. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Our goal was to quantify and visualize the three-dimensional loading relationship between the ligaments and articular surfaces of the ankle to identify and determine the stabilizing roles of these anatomical structures during the stance phase of gait. Materials and Methods: We applied discrete element analysis to computationally model the three-dimensional contact characteristics and ligament loading of the ankle joint. Physiologic loads approximating those at five positions in the stance phase of a normal walk cycle were applied. We analyzed joint contact pressures and periankle ligament tension concurrently. Results: Most ankle joint loading during the stance phase occurred across the articular surfaces of the joint, and the amount of ligament tension was small. The tibio-talar articulation showed full congruency throughout most of the stance phase, with peak pressure developing anteriorly toward the toe-off frame. Of the periankle ligaments, the deep deltoid ligament transferred the most force during the stance phase (57.2%); the superficial deltoid ligament transferred the second-most force (26.1%). The anterior talofibular ligament transferred force between the talus and fibula continuously, whereas the calcaneofibular ligament did not carry force during gait. The distal tibiofibular ligaments and the interosseous membrane were loaded throughout the stance phase. Conclusion: Force transmission through the ankle joint during the stance phase is predominantly through the articular surfaces, and the periankle ligaments do not play a major stabilizing role in constraining ankle motion. The medial ligaments have a more important role than do the lateral ligaments in stabilizing the ankle joint. Clinical Relevance: In addition to ligament insufficiency, other factors, such as varus tilt of the tibial plafond, may be important in the development of recurrent instability. Continuous loading of syndesmosis ligaments provides a theoretical basis for evidence of syndesmosis screw breakage or loosening. The analysis method has potential applications for clarifying ankle joint function and providing a basis for comparison between normal and abnormal joint conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Ankle
  • Contact stress
  • Gait
  • Ligament tension
  • Three-dimensional study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Cite this