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Arteries and nerves of the foot

Overview of the main arteries and nerves of the foot.

Show transcript

Hello, everyone! This is Joao from Kenhub, and welcome to another anatomy tutorial where, right now, we’re going to be talking about the different arteries and also nerves that you find on your foot.

Right now on your screen, we’re looking at the plantar view of your foot where we can see, on the left side, the different arteries that we’re going to be talking about on this tutorial as well as the different nerves that you see on the right side, on the image on the right side.

Now, as I just mentioned, then we’re going to be focusing on the main arteries and also nerves that we find on your foot. Before we do so, let’s start off by listing the different arteries that we’re going to be covering. We’re going to talk about the dorsal artery of the foot, the lateral and medial tarsal arteries, the arcuate artery, also the dorsal metatarsal arteries, the lateral and medial plantar arteries, the deep plantar arch, and finally, we’re going to also be talking about the plantar metatarsal arteries.

Now, let’s start off with the very first one here on our list that is seen now, highlighted in green. If you remember, this is then the dorsal artery of your foot. And the dorsal artery of the foot is, then, the continuation of this artery here, known as the anterior tibial artery, coming all the way from the lower leg. An anterior tibial artery is the distal continuation of an important artery in the thigh and leg known as the femoral artery.

The dorsal artery of the foot, then, runs on the back of the foot towards the first and second toes. This artery has an importance or clinical relevance as its pulse is easily felt when you search for it by slightly touching the dorsum of your foot or the back of your foot. And this artery also gives off several branches which are discussed on the next slides.

Next arteries that we’re going to be talking about that are seen here, highlighted in green, on the image on the left side, we’re looking at the lateral tarsal artery. And on the image on the right side, we’re looking, then, at the medial tarsal arteries. And keep in mind that on these images, we’re looking at the dorsum of the foot. This is not the plantar view or plantar side of your foot.

These are two of the branches of the dorsal artery of the foot, the medial and the lateral tarsal arteries. And just for a bit of reference, we can see here that this is the medial side of the foot, since it’s in the same direction as the big toe. And this part here is the lateral part of the toe of the foot as this is on the same direction as the little toe. And you notice here that these arteries are projecting either laterally, as you can see here, or medially, hence their names as well.

We take a closer look here at the lateral tarsal artery. This one branches off at the level of the navicular bone and runs towards the lateral side of the foot. This artery is going to be supplying the metatarsal joints as well as the extensor digitorum brevis muscle.

The next one that we’ve also seen already, these are known as, then, the medial tarsal arteries, which are made of several little branches that come from the dorsal artery of the foot and go towards the medial side of your foot. The medial tarsal arteries, then, supply the inner side of your foot.

Ready to move on to the next structure that you see here, highlighted in green, this is known as the arcuate artery. This one is a branch of the dorsal artery of the foot as well. Remember that the dorsal artery of the foot is seen right about here. It runs like an arch and gives off the dorsal metatarsal arteries. The arcuate artery runs over the base of the metatarsal bones from the medial to lateral sides and forms an anastomosis with the lateral tarsal artery and lateral plantar artery for a safe and efficient blood supply in this region.

I mentioned before, these arteries that we’re now highlighting, these are known as the dorsal metatarsal arteries. They are radiating from the arcuate artery towards the metatarsal bones, and distally, they each split into dorsal digital arteries that supply the toes with arterial blood.

The next set that we’re going to be seeing here now, we’re looking at the plantar side of the foot. I just turned these images, and we’re looking at two highlights here. On the left side, we have the lateral plantar artery, and on the image on the right side, we have then the medial plantar artery. These two arteries are branches of the posterior tibial artery. Remember that the dorsal artery of the foot is a continuation of the anterior tibial artery. And they run towards the medial and lateral sides of the sole of your foot.

Let’s take a closer look here at the lateral plantar artery. And the lateral plantar artery runs towards the lateral side of the foot until the little toe. It forms an anastomosis with the lateral tarsal artery and the arcuate artery. The lateral plantar artery is going be supplying the skin and musculature of the lateral side of the foot.

We also saw this one here that we’re now highlighting. This is, then, the medial plantar artery. And this one runs towards the medial side of the foot and follows the first metatarsal bone until your big toe. It will form an anastomosis with the first dorsal metatarsal artery.

Next one on the list is seen now, highlighted in green. We’re still on the plantar side of the foot. This is known as, then, the deep plantar arch. And the deep plantar arch is an arterial arch being formed by the lateral plantar artery and the deep plantar artery, which is a branch of the dorsal artery of the foot. The deep plantar arch reaches the first all the way to the fifth metatarsal bones and then supplies the tissue of the sole of the foot. It also gives off thr plantar metatarsal arteries, as you can see here on this image.

And as I just mentioned, the next set that we’re going to be highlighting now, if you remember, these are the plantar metatarsal arteries. They are radiating from the deep plantar arch. And just like the dorsal metatarsal arteries, they each split up into arteries known as the proper plantar digital arteries. And this will be then used for blood supply of the distal end of the foot.

We’re now ready to move on to the main nerves of the foot, and I would like to list them before we talk about them in a little bit more detail. We’re going to be talking about the dorsal digital nerves of the foot, the proper plantar digital nerves, the lateral dorsal cutaneous nerve, the lateral and medial plantar nerves. So all of these will be covered here on this tutorial.

And let’s start off with the very first one on the list that you see here, highlighted in green. These are known as the dorsal digital nerves of the foot. And these nerves are branches of the intermediate dorsal cutaneous nerve, the medial dorsal cutaneous nerve, the sural nerve, and the deep fibular nerve. In total, we’re going to see that there are ten dorsal digital branches. These nerves provide common and proper dorsal digital nerves to the dorsal aspects of the toes.

The next ones that we’re going to be highlighting here now, turning on to the plantar side of the foot, we’re highlighting the proper plantar digital nerves. They derive from the common plantar digital nerves, and each nerve supplies a plantar quadrant of a toe and part of the dorsal surface of the distal phalanx.

The next one that we’re going to be highlighting here now—again, onto the dorsum of the foot—we’re seeing here the lateral dorsal cutaneous nerve. The lateral dorsal cutaneous nerve is a cutaneous branch of the foot. It turns into a dorsal digital nerve and supplies the lateral side of the fifth toe, your little toe.

Next one we’re going to be highlighting here—back to the plantar side now—we’re highlighting the lateral plantar nerve. And the lateral plantar nerve is also known as the external plantar nerve, and it is a branch of the tibial nerve. The lateral plantar nerve is going to be innervating a lot of structures including the skin of the fifth toe, the lateral half of the fourth toe, as well as most part of the deep muscles, deep muscles of the foot that is. And we’re going to also list them here: the quadratus plantae, the lumbrical muscles of the foot, the plantar interossei, the dorsal interossei, the adductor hallucis, the abductor digiti minimi, and the flexor digiti minimi brevis.

On the medial side of the foot, we’re also going to find another plantar nerve, this time, known as the medial plantar nerve. This is also called or known as the internal plantar nerve. It is the larger of the two terminal divisions of the tibial nerve and follows the medial plantar artery. This nerve is split into different branches that we’re going to list them quickly. One is a cutaneous branch, a muscular branch. There is also an articular branch, a proper digital nerve to the medial side of the great toe, and three common digital nerves.

I would like to briefly mention the distribution of all those branches. The cutaneous branches are found on the skin of the sole of the foot.

The muscular branches are going to be seen innervating the adductor hallucis, the flexor digitorum brevis, the flexor hallucis brevis, and the first lumbrical muscle of the foot.

We’re also going to see that the articular branches are going to be innervating the articulations of the tarsus and metatarsus.

Now, the proper digital nerve of the great toe will be then innervating the flexor hallucis brevis and the skin on the medial side of the great toe.

And lastly, the three common digital nerves will be, then, innervating the adjacent sides of the great second, third, and fourth toes as well as the first lumbrical muscle of the foot.

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