Did you know that more than 620,000 ankle sprain cases are reported each year in the United States alone? Furthermore, nearly a quarter of those injuries are bad enough to eventually develop into a more serious and/or chronic problem. In other words, an ankle injury can have lasting effects, especially if it’s left untreated.
One of most commonly experienced ankle injuries is known as peroneal tendonitis. Not only can peroneal tendonitis significantly reduce a person’s mobility and thus decrease their quality of life but it can also affect people of all ages regardless of their health or activity level. The best way to prevent and/or treat peroneal tendonitis is to understand its causes and recognize its symptoms.
What Is Peroneal Tendonitis?
Peroneal tendonitis is not a complicated medical condition or life-threatening disease. It is, however, something that could alter the way you live, work and play. Fortunately, modern-day doctors have a better grasp on joint health and ankle injuries than ever before. As such, treatment options for peroneal tendonitis are readily available, even for those who choose to treat themselves at home.
Defined as a generalized inflammation within the peroneal tendons of the foot, peroneal tendonitis is an acute or chronic condition that can make it painful to stand, walk and/or pivot. It is not, however, an injury that has ever (or will ever) be considered lethal. But while it may not threaten a person’s life, it could put a serious damper on their livelihood.
The Most Common Causes
It’s important to note that peroneal tendonitis can be caused by a wide variety of things. That, unfortunately, includes everyday wear and tear on the muscles, tendons and joints in the legs and ankles. In fact, studies have shown that peroneal tendonitis can exist long before an injury ever takes place, with said injury sometimes being the result of an already weakened peroneal tendon. This suggests that the mere role of the peroneal tendon as a body stabilizer could play a part in how naturally susceptible it is.
You see, the peroneal tendons are those that run along the outside of the lower leg. These strong yet vulnerable tendons traverse behind the ankle before wrapping around the lateral side of the foot. While securely connecting muscle tissues to bone, the busy peroneal tendons must also stabilize the foot, keep the ankle balanced and protect them both from accidental sprains.
Peroneal tendonitis is, therefore, a rather uncomfortable condition that can transform the way a person moves. Some cases seem to develop over time while others occur suddenly as a result of an inadvertent injury. This form of tendonitis is most common in people who engage in sports and/or repetitive ankle motions, but peroneal tendon injuries are also found among individuals with high arches in their feet. Put simply, peroneal tendon injuries involve tears and subluxations – both of which can eventually develop into tendonitis if that injury is left untreated for too long.
Helpful Risk Factors and Prevention Tips
Preventing peroneal tendonitis is easier than you think. Factors which could potentially contribute to its development include:
- Overuse of the peroneal tendon
- Continual friction between the connective tendon and bone
- An increase in training intensity, especially in weight-bearing activities
- Improperly executed exercises
- High arches in the feet
- Previous injury to the leg, foot, ankle or lower back
- Unsupportive footwear
- Slips, trips and/or falls that result in a sprain
Understanding the risk factors is crucial to prevention. However, to avoid injury and/or prevent further damage to your ankle(s), it’s important to know the most commonly experienced symptoms of peroneal tendonitis as well.
The Top 5 Most Common Symptoms
Peroneal tendonitis is neither difficult to diagnose nor hard to treat. Furthermore, it usually requires only minimal imaging and/or medications, if any. Symptoms typically include, but are not always limited to, the following:
- Pain in the ankle, foot, and/or lower portion of the leg
- Swelling in and/or around those same areas
- The area itself being warm to the touch
- General instability
- Noticeable weakness in the foot or ankle
Please keep in mind that, as time passes, the small tears which have led to peroneal tendonitis can also change the very shape of a person’s foot if they’re not addressed properly with adequate treatments and lifestyle changes. The arch may become higher, leading to an unbalanced gait and subsequent chiropractic misalignments.
The 3 Best Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Peroneal Tendonitis
Understand that surgical intervention is sometimes needed for severe cases of peroneal tendonitis. However, early treatment of a simple tear or subluxation can help prevent invasive procedures and painful ruptures. If you experience a snapping sensation, be sure to see a foot and ankle specialist right away.
Treatment options are generally based on the type and severity of the injury to your peroneal tendon. Common treatment choices usually include the following:
- Ankle Immobilization
- This option usually involves the use of a splint, cast or brace which prevents the ankle from moving until it’s fully healed.
- This option often means using hot/cold compresses, guided stretches, tailored exercises and ultrasound therapy to reduce swelling and eliminate pain.
- Oral or Injectable
- This option generally includes prescription-grade anti-inflammatory and/or pain reduction medicines. However, depending on the patient, it may also involve the use of strong essential oils and/or other holistic alternatives.
Meanwhile, be aware that individual cases vary. Thus, doctors may sometimes use a combination of treatment options to get the best possible outcome for a patient. If you’re unsure about what’s needed to make your peroneal tendon feel and function normally, speak with a medical specialist as soon as possible to avoid further damage or permanent consequences.
Peroneal tendonitis does not have to ruin your life, especially considering how easily treatable it is if it’s discovered in time. People who experience peroneal tendonitis typically make a complete recovery after receiving adequate treatment, despite the fact that said treatments and the subsequent time required may both be substantial. As such, it’s important not to resume certain physical activities too quickly after being diagnosed with or treated for peroneal tendonitis.
If peroneal tendonitis is left untreated, the relatively innocuous inflammatory condition can then result in a more serious tear. That tear, in turn, increases a person’s risk of spraining their ankle or doing damage to their nerves. Because of that, it’s extremely vital to get peroneal tendonitis treated immediately. Although acute PT may heal faster than chronic PT, both cases always require rehabilitation and ample recovery time to produce optimal results.
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