Do you experience pain and swelling on the outside of your foot or ankle, especially after walking, running, or doing any weight-bearing activity? If so, you may be suffering from peroneal tendonitis.
Peroneal tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles in your lower leg to the bones in your foot. Their purpose is to help stabilize and balance your foot and ankle to protect them from injury. However, as a result of overuse, this type of foot tendonitis can develop if:
- You are over 40.
- You don’t stretch before doing physical activity.
- You have certain conditions, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
- You have had a previous tendon injury.
- You are overweight or obese, smoke, or have tight tendons.
In any case, peroneal tendonitis is not as common as other kinds of foot tendonitis, such as Achilles tendonitis, but can lead to a more serious injury – such as a ruptured tendon – if left untreated.
Symptoms of Peroneal Tendonitis
Peroneal tendon inflammation tends to develop over time with repetitive overuse of the affected tendons or an acute ankle injury , such as a sprain. The tendons can swell, which makes it difficult for them to move smoothly.
Here’s what peroneal tendonitis feels like:
- Ankle pain that extends along the length of the tendon.
- Pain that worsens with physical activity.
- Swelling, redness, or a feeling of warmth around the tendon.
- A thickening of the tendon, with a mass or nodule that moves with the tendon.
Unless treated, peroneal tendonitis can lead to a partial or complete tendon tear or a dislocation that results in ankle weakness or instability, intense pain along the outside of the foot and ankle, and/or a sharp, snapping sensation.
Treatment for Peroneal Tendonitis
Because its symptoms are similar to other foot and ankles problems such as sprains, arthritis, and fractures, peroneal tendonitis can be hard to diagnose. However, your healthcare provider can perform a physical examination that checks for swelling or tenderness on certain parts of your foot and ankle and perform certain ankle movements to evaluate the joint’s range of motion. Also, imaging – such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound – can rule out other foot and ankle issues.
Once peroneal tendonitis is diagnosed, there are conservative treatments that usually help relieve tendon pain and inflammation within a few weeks. These common treatments include:
- A brace that supports and stabilizes your ankle if you need to perform certain movements, such as running or jumping.
- A soft cast or boot that immobilizes your foot and takes the weight off your tendons while they heal.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroid injections that can reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy exercises and stretches that help you regain strength and flexibility in the foot and ankle.
- The RICE method(rest, ice, compression, and elevation). This involves resting by avoiding strenuous activities, applying an ice pack or cold compress to your ankle for 20 minutes every two hours, wrapping your ankle in a compression bandage to reduce swelling, and keeping your ankle elevated.
If your peroneal tendonitis doesn’t improve with these conservative treatments, you may require a minimally invasive synovectomy, a surgical procedure that involves small incisions. Following surgery, you will need to wear a cast on your lower leg for four to six weeks and may need to use crutches for the first few weeks. You may also need physical therapy to regain strength and stability in your ankle. In any case, your provider will tell you when it is safe to place weight on your ankle again.
Peroneal Tendonitis Treatment in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
At the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England, our board-certified podiatrists and surgeon have the expertise in medical and surgical podiatric care, as well as comprehensive podiatry services and solutions, to help patients of all ages suffering from a wide range of foot and ankle conditions, including peroneal tendonitis.
For the best possible care for your foot or ankle issues, schedule a visit with one of our foot and ankle experts by calling the nearest Foot & Ankle Institute of New England office in Warwick or Middletown, Rhode Island, or Fall River, Massachusetts. Or, if you prefer, simply request an appointment online.