Understanding Peroneal Tendon Issues including peronal tendonitis, peroneal tendon tears, and subluxation of peroneal tendons

LEAP Foot and Ankle Specialists pllc
March 4, 2024

What’s Peroneal Tendonitis?

The peroneal tendons play a crucial role in the stability and movement of the ankle. These tendons, located on the outer side of the leg, ankle, and foot facilitate essential functions such as foot and ankle stabilization, balance, and proprioception. However, like any other part of the body, peroneal tendons are susceptible to various conditions, with peroneal tendonitis and subluxing peroneal tendons being two common issues.

Anatomy of Peroneal Tendons:

To understand peroneal tendon-related conditions, it's essential to know the anatomy of these structures. There are two peroneal tendons, the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis—that run parallel to each other behind the outer ankle bone (lateral malleolus) and through a groove in the fibula. These tendons originate from the muscles near the calf and extend down the leg, allowing for various ankle movements.

Peroneus longus primarily supports the arch of the foot and helps in plantar flexion and eversion, while peroneus brevis focuses on foot eversion. The coordinated action of these tendons is crucial for maintaining ankle stability, especially during weight-bearing activities.

What is Peroneal Tendonitis?

Peroneal tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the peroneal tendons. This inflammation can result from overuse, improper footwear, trauma, or biomechanical abnormalities. Individuals who engage in activities that involve repetitive ankle movements, such as running or jumping, are more susceptible to peroneal tendonitis.

What does  peroneal tendonitis feel like?

  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Instability or weakness
  • Difficulty in pointing toes down or outwards

Where does peroneal tendonitis hurt? 

Pain will often be felt on the outer side of the leg , lateral ankle behind the fibula, or even the outside or plantar surface of the foot. 

What causes peroneal tendonitis?

  • Overuse and Repetitive Strain: Engaging in activities that put excessive stress on the peroneal tendons without adequate rest can lead to inflammation.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper support or do not match the individual's foot mechanics can contribute to tendon-related issues.
  • Ankle Instability: Weakness or instability in the ankle joint can predispose individuals to peroneal tendonitis.
  • Foot Structure: People with cavus feet / high arched feet / underpronaters are more prone to overloading the lateral structures of the foot and ankle. 

What is subluxation of the peroneal tendons?

Subluxing peroneal tendons involve the displacement or slipping of the tendons from their normal position behind the ankle bone (Fibula). This condition is often associated with an anatomical abnormality where the groove housing the tendons is shallow or insufficient to keep them in place or the retinaculum holding the tendons in place is stretched out or torn

What are the symptoms of subluxing peroneal tendons?

  • Sensation of snapping or popping on the outer side of the ankle
  • Recurrent episodes of the tendon moving out of place
  • Swelling and discomfort
  • Instability, especially during activities that involve ankle movement

What happens if I tear my peroneal tendon? 

In addition to peroneal tendonitis and subluxation, another significant concern that individuals may face is peroneal tendon tears. These tears can range from mild to severe and often result from acute trauma or chronic overuse.

What are the symptoms of a torn peroneal tendon?

  • Sudden, sharp pain on the outer side of the ankle
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Difficulty or inability to point the toes down or outwards
  • Audible popping or snapping sound at the time of injury
  • Instability and weakness in the ankle

What causes a torn peroneal tendon? 

  • Acute Trauma: A sudden force or impact, such as an ankle sprain, can lead to tears in the peroneal tendons.
  • Chronic Overuse: Repetitive stress on the tendons without sufficient rest and recovery can result in gradual wear and tear, contributing to tears.
  • Ankle Instability: Weakness in the ankle muscles or ligaments can predispose individuals to tendon injuries.

How are peroneal tendon ruptures diagnosed?

Diagnosing peroneal tendon tears involves a thorough examination by your Lakewood, Co podiatrist. This will include a physical assessment, imaging studies (such as MRI or ultrasound), and a discussion of your medical history and symptoms. Differentiating between tendonitis, subluxation, and tears is crucial for developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Peroneal tendons, though often overlooked, play a vital role in ankle function and stability. Understanding the anatomy, causes, and symptoms of peroneal tendonitis and subluxing peroneal tendons is crucial for early detection and effective management. If you experience persistent ankle pain, swelling, or instability, seeking prompt medical attention from your Denver, Co podiatrists can make a significant difference in preserving your foot and ankle health. Same Day Appointments available. Call today for a consultation.


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