Peroneal Tendonitis: Causes and Treatment

Chronic ankle pain has a significant impact on quality of life. Peroneal tendonitis is an ankle condition primarily impacting athletes and runners, although people from all walks of life may suffer an ankle injury related to overuse. Prevention and treatment of peroneal tendonitis can keep your ankle flexible and reduce pain.

What is peroneal tendonitis?

Your ankles support much of your body weight during everyday movements and exercise. The complicated structure of the ankle and foot are vital to your balance and movement, and injuries to the structure can be debilitating. The two peroneal tendons run behind the outer ankle bone and provide stability to the joint. Peroneal tendonitis occurs when one or both of the peroneal tendons becomes inflamed from rubbing against the ankle bone. If left untreated, the swollen tendon can continue to contact the ankle bone, exacerbating the problem.

What causes peroneal tendonitis?

Ankle tendonitis can be caused by a sudden injury, such as a sprain, or from prolonged repetitive use of the joint. The condition most often occurs in athletes who run long-distance or participate in other sports with repeated ankle movements. In most cases peroneal tendonitis results in swelling or tearing of the tendon, but occasionally it can cause subluxation, which means one or both tendons have slipped out of their normal position. This is often caused by a misshapen ankle bone or an injury.

How is peroneal tendonitis treated?

Treatment for peroneal tendonitis will vary based on the severity of your condition. Mild cases may require rest, supportive footwear, and pain medication as needed to allow the tendon to heal on its own. Some moderate cases of tendonitis may involve physical therapy, pain medication, or wearing a brace or cast to stabilize the joint. In moderate to severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to repair one or both tendons. Dr. Dickerson works closely with each patient to determine an appropriate treatment plan to treat the level of injury.

Is ankle instability the same as peroneal tendonitis?

Ankle instability is sometimes related to peroneal tendonitis, or can even lead to tendonitis down the line. Your peroneal tendons can be injured by an ankle sprain, due to instability. An injured or inflamed tendon then advances to further instability. Be cautious during exercise and other day-to-day activities, and use the following preventive measures if you notice any ankle instability:

  • Perform strengthening exercises
  • Practice balancing activities
  • Get proper rest after exercise
  • Use appropriate footwear

If you still experience ankle instability or pain, it could be time to see Dr. Dickerson for an examination and testing.

Do I have peroneal tendonitis?

You may have peroneal tendonitis if you experience pain or swelling on the outside or back of your ankles. Your ankle could also be warm to the touch as a result of inflammation. If you’ve experienced an acute injury or your ankle is painful and could be a symptom of peroneal tendonitis, Dr. Dickerson is a resource for foot and ankle conditions at Heiden Orthopedics. He is a compassionate, board-certified surgeon who can correctly diagnose and treat a variety of ankle conditions.

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