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Bones of the foot

Other Terms: Foot, Toe(s), Set of bones of foot, Foot skeleton




The proximal end of the foot is the tarsus or ankle. The tarsal bones are seven in number and decrease in size from proximal to distal. Distal to the tarsus are the five digital rays. The four lateral digits consist of a metatarsal bone and three phalanges. The large medial digit, the hallux, has a metatarsal bone and only two phalanges.


Foot is an Anglo-Saxon word that stems from an Aryan word meaning the lowest part or base of a structure. The base that supports us is our foot. The Latin equivalent for this word is pes.


The foot exhibits a variety of joints, from the plane joints between the tarsal bones, to the sellar calcaneocuboid joint, to the ellipsoid metatarsophalangeal joints, to the hinge joints between the phalanges.


All the bones of the foot ossify endochonrally. During this endochondral ossification the long bones of the foot develop synchondrotic joints called epiphyseal growth plates. These cartilage plates form the growth centers during the early years (up to age 25) of postnatal life. Some general rules for ossification patterns in these bones are: 1) primary ossification centers appear during the end of the embryonic period; 2) secondary ossification centers appear near the time of birth; 3) secondary centers typically appear earlier in females; 4) secondary centers that appear early will usually fuse later.


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