What is peroneal tendonitis?
Peroneal tendonitis is inflammation of the peroneal tendons in the foot. The peroneal tendons run from the outside of the lower leg, behind the ankle and down to the foot.
What does peroneal tendonitis feel like?
Peroneal tendonitis usually causes pain along the outside of the foot, ankle or lower leg. Pain may be present with activity such as walking or standing. People with peroneal tendonitis often also have ankle instability.
Discomfort due to peroneal tendonitis will usually occur gradually, increasing over time if aggravating activities are continued. In the initial stage of the condition, pain is not present when at rest, but as the condition progresses pain will be felt even when resting.
What causes peroneal tendonitis?
Repetition and/or high forces can put excess tension on the peroneal tendons leading to damage and inflammation. Activities that are typically related to peroneal tendonitis are walking or running (particularly on uneven ground) or sports that involve frequent change of direction or jumping (such as basketball, netball, dancing).
As the peroneal tendons help to support the foot, everyday stepping can also put stress on these tendons. Certain foot types will be more prone to increased tendon stress (eg, flat feet, high arched feet).
People with supinated feet (feet that roll outward) can be prone to peroneal tendonitis due to tension on the peroneal tendons.
How is peroneal tendonitis treated?
Diagnosis of peroneal tendonitis is usually made on clinical examination, however referral for an MRI scan or ultrasound may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
Depending on clinical examination and the length of time that symptoms have been present, treatment can include:
- Rest and anti-inflammatory medication
- Exercises and physical therapy
- Footwear advice and orthotics to reduce tension on the peroneal tendons and prevent recurrence of the problem
Surgery is rarely necessary for this condition. However in severe cases surgery may be necessary to clean around and repair any defects in the tendon.