Peroneal Tendon Tears

Peroneal tendon tears occur when one or both of the tendons that run together behind the outer ankle bone become injured. The main function of the peroneal tendons is to stabilize the foot and ankle, protecting them from sprains. Tears may be acute (occurring suddenly) or chronic (developing over time).


Acute peroneal tendon tears usually are the result of an athletic injury, such as running or jumping, that puts stress on the ankle. Falls or ankle sprains can also cause an acute injury. Chronic tears develop with normal wear and tear because the tendon rubs against the fibula (calf bone).


The most common symptoms of peroneal tendon tears are pain, swelling, and weakness or instability of the foot and ankle. Symptoms usually worsen with increased physical activity. Tendon tears can also change the shape of the foot’s arch over time.


Because peroneal tendon tears may worsen without professional treatment, prompt medical attention is advised. Physicians will examine the foot, looking for instability, swelling, and pain. Imaging such as x-rays may also be used to properly diagnose peroneal tendon tears.


Nonsurgical treatments such as casts and splints, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy may be effective. However, peroneal tendon tears are usually treated with surgery. Surgical options include tendon repair, tendon graft, and attaching the torn tendon to its neighboring tendon (tenodesis).

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