Peroneal Tendon Injury

What is a peroneal tendon injury?

A peroneal tendon injury is a problem with the tendons and muscles on the outer side of your lower leg and foot. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone. The peroneal tendons help keep your foot and ankle stable when you walk.

Tendons can be injured suddenly or they may be slowly damaged over time. You can have tiny or partial tears in your tendon. If you have a complete tear of your tendon, it is called a rupture. Other tendon injuries may be called a strain, tendinosis, or tendonitis.

What is the cause?

Peroneal injuries can be caused by:

  • Overuse of the tendon from a sport or work activity that causes your foot and ankle to roll inward, like when you run on sloped surfaces or run in shoes that are getting worn out on the outside of the heel.
  • A sudden activity that forces your foot upward toward your shin, like landing on your feet after a fall, or rolling your ankle on a rock while running.

What are the symptoms?

You may hear a pop or a snap when the injury happens. You may have pain and swelling on the outer side of your lower leg or ankle.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history. You may have X-rays or other scans.

How is it treated?

While you are recovering from your injury, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that will not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of run.

Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you heal.

Use an elastic bandage or an ankle brace as directed by your provider. You may need to use crutches until you can walk without pain.

The pain often gets better within a few weeks with self-care, but some injuries may take several months or longer to heal. It’s important to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions.

How can I take care of myself?

To help relieve swelling and pain:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth, on the area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Do ice massage. To do this, first freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over your tendon for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
  • Keep your ankle up on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Take pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.

Moist heat may help relax your muscles and make it easier to move your leg. Put moist heat on the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Moist heat includes heat patches or moist heating pads that you can purchase at most drugstores, a wet washcloth or towel that has been heated in the dryer, or a hot shower. Don’t use heat if you have swelling.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid, including how much you can lift, and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent a peroneal tendon injury?

Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. For example, do exercises that keep your ankles and leg muscles strong. If your leg or ankle hurts after exercise, putting ice on it may help keep it from getting injured.

Follow safety rules and use any protective equipment recommended for your work or sport. For example, wear high-top athletic shoes or a supportive ankle brace. When you run, choose level surfaces and avoid rocks or holes.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Copyright ©2014 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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