Peroneal tendon injuries may be acute (occurring suddenly) or chronic (developing over a period of time). They most commonly occur in individuals who participate in sports that involve repetitive ankle motion. In addition, people with higher arches are at risk for developing peroneal tendon injuries. Basic types of peroneal tendon injuries are tendonitis, tears, and subluxation.
Acute tears are caused by repetitive activity or trauma. Immediate symptoms of acute tears include: pain, swelling, and weakness or instability of the foot and ankle.
As time goes on, these tears may lead to a charge in the shape of the foot, in which the arch may become higher.
Degenerative tears (tendonosis) are usually due to overuse and occur over long periods of time- often years. In degenerative tears, the tendon is like taffy that has been overstretched until it becomes thin and eventually frays. Having high arches also puts you at risk for developing a degenerative tear. The symptoms of degenerative tears may include:
- Sporadic pain (occurring from time to time) on the outside of the ankle.
- Weakness or instability in the ankle.
- An increase in the height of the arch.
- A snapping feeling of the tendon around the ankle bone.
- Sporadic pain behind the outside ankle bone.
- Ankle instability or weakness.
Because peroneal tendon injuries are sometimes misdiagnosed and may worsen without proper treatment, prompt evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon is advised. To diagnose a peroneal tendon injury, the podiatrist will examine the foot and look for pain, instability, swelling, warmth, and weakness on the outer side of the ankle. In addition, an x-ray or other advanced imaging studies may be needed to fully evaluate the injury. The podiatrist will also look for signs of an ankle sprain and other related injuries that sometimes accompany a peroneal tendon injury. Proper diagnosis is important because prolonged discomfort after a simple sprain may be a sign of additional problems.
Treatment depends on the type of peroneal tendon injury. Option include:
- Immobilization. A cast or splint may be used to keep the foot and ankle from moving and allow the injury to heal.
- Medications. Oral or injected anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve the pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy. Ice, heat, or ultrasound therapy may be used to reduce swelling and pain. As symptoms improve, exercises can be added to strengthen the muscles and improve range of motion and balance.
- Bracing. The surgeon may provide a brace to use for a short while or during activities requiring repetitive ankle motion. Bracing may also be an option when a patient is not a candidate for surgery.
If you believe you have a peroneal tendon injury and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Podiatrists in CT
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