Peroneal Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 

So, are you dealing with a nagging pain on the outside of your foot or leg and do you want to know what it is? Well, it’s called peroneal tendonitis/tendinitis. But, before we dive into peroneal tendonitis, let’s get into some basics first!

Do you know what a tendon is? A tendon is a string of strong, flexible tissue which is similar to a rope. It connects our muscles to our bones. Today, we move our limbs so freely because of these tendons. But, sometimes these tendons can be strained too.

Now, peroneal tendons come into action! They stabilize the foot and ankle and protect us from sprains. But, once they get inflamed, it will be painful to move our foot.

What is peroneal tendonitis?

Tendonitis is the inflammation of tendons (-itis means inflammation) and peroneal tendonitis or peroneal tendinopathy is defined as the inflammation of the tendons of muscles which occurs on the outside of your lower leg.

It usually occurs when one or both the peroneal tendons swell resulting in an intense pain. Most often, it occurs due to overusing the tendons but it can also be the result of a sudden injury or a fall and aging can also be a reason sometimes. As you grow older, blood supply to your tendons gradually decreases, resulting in thinning and making it easier for you to injure.

peroneal tendonitis

What are peroneal tendons?

There are two muscles, peroneus longus & peroneus brevis in each leg. They make up the peroneal muscles and they turn into tendons around the ankle. 

Peroneus longus runs underneath the foot & attaches to the arch on the inside. While, peroneus brevis attaches to the outside of the foot to the little toe’s base. These peroneal tendons help stabilize the foot and ankle and also protects it from sprains. It also helps stabilize our feet and legs while walking.

How common are peroneal tendonitis injuries?

Peroneal tendon injuries are quite rare. It mostly occurs in athletes, long-distance runners or someone who spends a lot of time on their feet. 

Even though peroneal tendon injuries are rare, it causes aggravating pain outside of the foot which doesn’t let you do your favorite activities. But fear not, it is a treatable condition and can be prevented by following a few simple steps.

What exactly causes peroneal tendonitis?

It’s a known fact that our feet and ankles do a lot of work for us everyday and of course they will ask for a break at some point of time.

In case of peroneal tendinopathy, your feet and ankles may take a break for several reasons. Some of the causes of peroneal tendonitis are here as follows:

What does peroneal tendinitis feel like?

Peroneal tendinitis can come suddenly or it can develop over time. In both cases, there are a few common symptoms of peroneal tendonitis and they may include:

The symptoms of peroneal tendonitis usually develop gradually over a few weeks or months and these symptoms tend to be worse in the morning and eases once you are up.

How is peroneal tendonitis diagnosed?

The best way to determine if you have peroneal tendinopathy is to visit an orthopedic nearby. 

They will collect your medical history first, which includes:

Next step, they will perform various physical examinations which are as follows:

Always go for an early diagnosis so that you can reduce your risk for the condition which helps you for a speedy recovery.

How can peroneal tendinopathy be treated?

People who suffer from peroneal tendonitis are more active, spend a lot of time running, high-intensity training, etc. I know it’s really difficult to slow down your way of life even though the pain is severe, but the best way to treat the condition is to slow down, rest and stay off your feet.

Some of the non-surgical peroneal tendonitis treatment options are available and they include:

‘RICE’ is a short-cut for:-

R’ stands for rest: It’s very crucial to avoid all the activities which aggravate your symptoms so that it can heal faster.

I’ stands for ice: Apply ice on your ankle regularly, it can help reduce your pain and inflammation of peroneal tendonitis.

C’ stands for compression: Wear a support brace or a compression bag, it can help reduce inflammation and instability of your foot or ankle. 

E’ stands for elevation: Keep your ankle elevated higher than your ankle while resting. It can help reduce the pressure on your foot or ankle. 

Few best stretches to manage and heal peroneal tendonitis:

Some of the best stretches which are recommended commonly by the physiotherapists for treating peroneal tendinitis are as follows:

1. Calf stretch:

This is one of the most common stretches which can be done in many different ways. You can follow the steps below to ensure you are doing it right

2. Towel stretch:

Stretching the muscles above and below the affected area is very important. It can help decrease the neural tension and tightness. Follow the steps below to do the exercise:

3. Golf ball massage:

It’s not mandatory to use a golf ball for this technique, you can also use any hard round object. You can follow the instructions below to perform this technique:

Most of the cases are resolved with physical therapy, but few people may require surgery. Surgery is for those who had this condition for a longer time, so get an early diagnosis and treatment to avoid this situation.

Don’t endure it, just cure it!

As we all know, peroneal tendonitis is a common condition and it is treatable. So all you have to do is, get a right diagnosis followed by treatment and some stretches at home. With the right treatment and instructions, you should be able to return to do your favourite activities within two weeks.

But, if the symptoms persist longer, don’t just endure it and visit your doctor, get an early diagnosis followed by treatment to be cured from the condition.