Proprioception at the ankle: the effect of anaesthetic blockade of ligament receptors

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1993 May;75(3):433-6. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.75B3.8496215.


Seven subjects with normal joints were tested for active and passive position sense of ankle inversion, peroneal reflex reaction time to sudden ankle inversion, and postural stability during single-leg stance. The tests were performed before and after regional block of the ankle and foot with local anaesthetic. Passive position sense, assessed with the muscles relaxed, was greatly impaired by anaesthesia but active position sense, with the calf muscles activated, was preserved, and the peroneal reaction time to sudden ankle inversion was not altered. The magnitude of postural sway during single-leg stance was also unchanged by anaesthesia of the ankle and foot. The results suggest that the afferent input from intact lateral ankle ligaments is important in sensing correct placement of the foot at heel-strike, but that this input can be replaced by afferent information from active calf muscles. Afferent input from these muscles seems also to be responsible for dynamic ankle protection against sudden ankle inversion and is adequate to allow stable single-leg stance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / drug effects
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Anesthesia, Conduction
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Ankle Joint / drug effects
  • Ankle Joint / innervation
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ligaments, Articular / drug effects
  • Ligaments, Articular / innervation
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nerve Block*
  • Peroneal Nerve / drug effects
  • Peroneal Nerve / physiology
  • Postural Balance
  • Posture
  • Proprioception / drug effects
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reaction Time
  • Reflex, Stretch / drug effects
  • Reflex, Stretch / physiology
  • Walking / physiology


  • Anesthetics, Local