What Is a Peroneal Tendon Tear?

What Is a Peroneal Tendon Tear?

Your ankle relies on your peroneal tendons for stability — so when they rupture, it creates the perfect storm for an unstable joint. These tendons are prone to tendonitis, inflammation that, when left untreated, causes tears in these vital tendons. There are, however, treatments that can help.

At Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, our team offers several cutting-edge treatments for peroneal tendon tears. Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister is our esteemed foot and ankle specialist, who offers a speedy diagnosis and expert care when you’re dealing with peroneal tendon tears.

Understanding your peroneal tendons

Your peroneal tendons are located on the outer part of your leg, and connect the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis muscles to your foot. They run down your leg and on the outer aspect of your ankle, providing stability.

The tendons sit right on top of each other, just behind your fibula. They’re important because they attach your peroneal muscles to your bones, allowing them to provide outward movement of your foot.

Because the two peroneal tendons lie on top of one another, they create a lot of friction with movement, which often causes problems like tendonitis or tendon rupture.

What causes a peroneal tendon tear?

Peroneal tendon tears, or ruptures, occur when peroneal tendonitis is left untreated. The inflammation of tendonitis causes the tendon to swell, causing friction of the tendons and, eventually, a tear.

The peroneus brevis is the tendon that’s more likely to tear of the two. One reason for this is the area of weak blood supply, known as the watershed zone. Tears often happen in this area because of the lack of nutrition and circulation to the tendon.

Another reason for a peroneus brevis tear is the close proximity of the tendons to one another. This sometimes causes the peroneus brevis to become trapped between the other tendon and bone; the tendon rubs against the bone and can tear.

Recognizing the symptoms of a tear

Signs and symptoms of a peroneal tendon tear are similar to symptoms of tendonitis in those with mild to moderate tears. The typical symptoms of a peroneal tendon issue include:

If you’ve severely torn your peroneal tendon, your instability and weakness is more profound than with tendonitis. The pain is also severe on the outer aspect of your ankle, and may feel sharp or stabbing.

How are peroneal tendon tears treated?

The type of treatment for your tear is based on your symptoms and the severity of the tear. Dr. McAlister obtains diagnostic studies like an MRI to determine the damage to the tendons. In some cases, a peroneal tear is asymptomatic, meaning you’ll need conservative treatments that may include:

If you have a tear and conservative measures haven’t been successful, Dr. McAlister recommends surgery to repair the tendon and restore the stability of your ankle. There are two different types of tendon surgery.

A tenodesis is a procedure where the damaged area of the tendon is reattached to the normal, healthy tendon. This is usually done when more than half of the tendon is torn. 

A debridement and repair procedure involves Dr. McAlister removing the inflamed tissue on the tendon and repairing the tear. This is usually more successful when less than half of your tendon is torn or damaged.

If you’ve suffered a peroneal tendon injury, don’t hesitate to call us at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or book an appointment online with us today.

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