Peroneal Tendonitis and Tendon Tear

Dr. Christine Seaworth, a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee, discusses the common causes of peroneal tendonitis and tendon tears and treatment options to help with the pain in this patient education article.


Peroneal tendonitis can be a common problem with patients that have pain and swelling on the outside of their ankles. The peroneal tendons are commonly overworked in sports requiring lots of quick changes in direction, patients who have had many ankle sprains, and those with a high arched foot. The peroneal tendons are very important for balancing and become aggravated especially on uneven surfaces. 


As the tendons become more inflamed with overuse and injury, they become more swollen and painful and limit patient activity. Those who have had multiple ankle sprains often have weakened muscles around the ankle requiring the tendons to work harder to support the ankle. Patients with high arches have an alignment of the bones of their foot that tilt their foot over to the side putting an extra strain on these tendons. As the tendons become more inflamed and stained they can weaken and develop split tears along the length of the tendon leading to more pain and weakness. As the tendon weakness and splits further it can be at higher risk to even lead to rupture of the tendon.


Initial treatment of peroneal tendonitis consists of rest, over-the-counter medications, bracing to support the tendons, and physical therapy for strengthening. If these treatments do not work, MRI is ordered to evaluate for tears of the tendon or rupture.  


If pain continues and MRI images show evidence of peroneal tendon tear or peroneal tendon rupture, you are a candidate for surgical repair or reconstruction based on the extent of your injury. If you also have very weak ankles from multiple ankle sprains, the ligaments will oftentimes be tightened up to stabilize the ankle at the time of peroneal tendon repair. If you have a high arch, you may also require foot reconstruction surgery at the time of peroneal tendon surgery to help prevent further damage of the tendons and to protect your surgical repair.


University Orthoped Surgeons offers personalized foot and ankle expertise


If you're ready to discuss peroneal tendonitis and tendon tears and treatment options with our specialty-trained foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Christine Seaworth visit us at our UT Medical CenterWest Knoxville, or Sevierville locations. You can request an appointment online or call (865) 546-2663 for our UT Medical Center and Sevierville offices, (865) 218-9300 for our West Knoxville office. Telemedicine appointments are also available by request.