When it comes to tendons in the feet and ankles, the Achilles tends to steal the show. It’s the one people tend to think of first when it comes to problems and pain, and it benefits from that whole Greek mythology bump as well. The Achilles is not the only tendon in the area, however, and not the only one that can face trouble. It’s time to give some of the spotlight to the peroneal tendons (yes, there are two of them) and peroneal tendonitis.
Peroneal Tendons – Perennial Understudies
A tendon connects a muscle to a bone. The peroneal tendons do the job side by side, running next to each other around the outer ankle bone. Both connect leg muscles to foot bones, but their starting and ending points are different. The peroneus brevis starts on a lower leg and connects to the fifth metatarsal on the side of the foot. The peroneus longus (which is, as you might suspect, longer), starts higher up on the leg and curves around beneath the foot to connect to the first metatarsal on the opposite side of the foot.
Although their connections are different, the peroneal tendons both play a very important role. They turn the ankle toward the outside and provide a stability to the foot and ankle that helps protect against overextension and sprains.
Just like the Achilles tendon, the peroneal tendons can suffer from inflammation due to overuse or repetitive activities that involve shifting and pivoting the ankle, such as gymnastics or running on sloped roads. Abnormalities in one’s foot position, muscle imbalances, or ankle sprains can also damage the tendons.
Symptoms of peroneal tendonitis include pain around the back and outside of the foot, and the area will tend to be tender or warm to the touch. Depending upon the cause of the injury, the pain might develop gradually over several weeks, but grow worse with activity and lessen with rest. Pain might be worst in the morning, and it might cause additional pain to turn the foot inward.
Peroneal Tendon Treatment
Non-surgical treatments for peroneal tendonitis are rather simple, but require patience. It can take several months for pain and discomfort to recede, and it’s important during this time not to further aggravate the injury.
Rest and a change in activity is almost fully guaranteed, but that does not mean being laid up the entire length of recovery. Certain activities that don’t place excess stress on the injury can be incorporated and gradually built up during the healing process, and exercises intended to condition the area against further injury may also be recommended. The key is following medical advice and not pushing the tendons too much before they have fully healed.
In some rougher cases, bracing or casting might be needed to immobilize the injury and allow it proper time to heal. In rarer cases, surgery might be considered to repair the tendons.
If you are suffering from foot or ankle pain that isn’t going away, the worst thing you can do is continue hoping it does. Family Foot Care & Surgery can get to the root of your discomfort and identify the proper treatments to ensure the problem doesn’t get worse. Call one of our two area offices at 203-876-7736 for Milford or 203-288-4055 for Hamden, or use our online contact form to reach us.