A deltoid ligament, also known as a medial ligament, is a triangular shaped band that binds the tibia to the inner bony protrusions on the side of the ankle. The ligament offers support and helps prevent the ankle from over rotating, or pronating, to the outside. Made up of both superficial and deep fibers, it is one of the strongest ligaments in the human body.
This ligament supports the foot’s arch and provides stability on the medial, meaning inner portion, of the ankle with a series of fibers. The fibers connect the medial malleolus of the tibia to four areas of the foot. The superficial fibers attach at three of the four points: the anterior, middle, and posterior aspects of the talus, the bone between the leg and the foot. The deep fiber extends from the medial malleolus to the talus’ medial surface.
Due to the anatomical structure of the bones and the strength of the ligament, deltoid sprains and injuries are usually rare. Typically, ankle sprains are the result of over exertion of the lateral collateral ligament, which connects the fibula to the talus. Deltoid sprains are often caused by severe trauma, when the ankle is twisted to the outside and usually associated with a fracture of the fibula.
Other injuries can result from general wear and tear or overuse. Since the deltoid ligament supports the arch, people with flat feet and knocked knees are generally more susceptible to injuring it. When injury occurs, patients often report pain radiating from the inner portion of the ankle, along with bruising and swelling. The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of the injury.
The treatment of injuries to this ligament depends on the damage done to it, and medical professionals normally diagnose injuries in three categories. A Grade I injury results from stretching of the ligament and is usually accompanied with minor symptoms. Grade II involves a partial tear associated with more pain, while Grade III describes a complete tear in the ligament. Normally, a deltoid ligament injury can be treated with a combination of rest and ice treatments, but a more severe injury may require surgical repair.
Specialized shoes or orthotics can help prevent painful strains on the ligament and help it recover from minor injury. If an injury does occur, the individual should stay off the ankle and apply treatment right away. If the pain is severe, a medical professional should be consulted.