There are two peroneal tendons that run alongside one another just behind the outer portion of the ankle bone.
These tendons provide stabilization for both the ankle and foot, which helps to protect from certain injuries like ankle sprains. While these tendons are meant to protect the foot from injury, it’s possible for the tendons themselves to become injured.
If you begin to experience pain and other problems around the location of these tendons, the underlying tissues may have been injured.
Types of Peroneal Tendon Injuries
The various peroneal tendon injuries that an individual can suffer from can be divided into acute injuries, which occur without any forewarning, and chronic injuries, which develop over a lengthy period of time. Chronic injuries are typically more difficult to effectively treat. The peroneal tendon is most commonly injured by individuals who play sports. If you engage in any sport or activity that requires repetitive ankle motions, you’ll have a higher chance of suffering from an injury to this tendon. There are four basic types of peroneal tendon injuries, which include tendonitis, degenerative tears, acute tears, and subluxation.
Tendonitis is the most common type of injury with the peroneal tendon, and it occurs when at least one of the two tendons becomes inflamed. This inflammation is usually caused by overusing the tendon or a specific trauma such as an ankle sprain. Degenerative tears are referred as tendonosis and occur when you use the tendon more that you’re supposed to. The main difference between this condition and tendonitis is that degenerative tears develop over a lengthy period of time wherein the tendon was regularly stretched to the point where it began to thin and fray.
Patients who have high arches in their feet are more at risk for this condition. Acute tears can be caused by a sudden trauma or repetitive activity. These are the easiest peroneal tendon injuries to treat in most cases. Subluxation is a more unique type of injury that occurs when either one or both of the tendons have moved out of their standard position. This injury typically results from the damage caused by another injury or trauma. Chronic subluxation is possible if the damage is severe enough.
Primary Symptoms Pertaining to Peroneal Tendon Injuries
The symptoms associated with peroneal tendon injuries depend on which injury you suffer from. With tendonitis, the main symptoms that you’ll experience include swelling, pain, and a warmth along the tendon when you touch it. The amount of pain you go through is determined by whether one or both tendons are affected. The symptoms associated with a degenerative tear in the tendon include sporadic pain, a general instability within your ankle, and a height increase with the arch of your foot.
Acute tears have the same symptoms as tendonitis, with the main difference being an additional feeling of weakness in your foot. If you believe that you might be suffering from subluxation, you will likely first experience a hard snapping feeling right around the tendon bone. The pain will be sporadic and will be accompanied by ankle instability.
How These Injuries Are Typically Diagnosed
Peroneal tendon injuries can be misdiagnosed on occasion, which will likely lead to the pain worsening. The best way to avoid a misdiagnosis is to have the area looked at by a doctor early on after you’ve noticed the symptoms. A doctor or surgeon will perform an examination of the foot to look for the symptoms of these peroneal tendon injuries. There are times when an X-ray or MRI scan will be administered before a final diagnosis is made.
How Peroneal Tendon Injuries Are Commonly Treated
The severity of your peroneal tendon injury plays a large part in what kind of treatment you’re provided with. Your foot will likely be immobilized in a splint or cast to minimize movement and keep swelling down. Specific medications may also be prescribed to you as a means of reducing the pain and inflammation that are occurring because of the injury. A simple brace may be placed around your foot for a short period of time to protect your foot from further damage when you play sports or exercise. As for surgery, this is usually only an option with a partial or complete tear of the tendon. The main surgical options include tenodesis and tendon debridement, both of which should restore your tendon to its original function.