What is peroneal tenosynovitis and how is it treated?

Peroneal tenosynovitis is a condition that occurs when the peroneal tendons, which are the tendons that extend from the lower leg to the foot, become inflamed and irritated in their synovial sheath (tissue that surrounds and lubricates them). This inflammation can cause pain and weakness in the foot and lower leg.

This condition can be caused by repetitive overuse of the area, such as in runners or dancers, or by acute injury to the area, such as a sprained ankle. It may also be associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of peroneal tenosynovitis may include pain on the outside of the ankle and lower leg, swelling and weakness. The pain usually worsens with physical activity and may interfere with the ability to walk or run.

Treatment of peroneal tenosynovitis depends on the severity of the condition and may include conservative measures or more invasive medical procedures. Some treatment options include:

  • Rest and ice: It is important to rest the affected area to avoid worsening the inflammation. Applying ice to the area for about 20 minutes every 2-3 hours can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help reduce inflammation and pain. They should be taken according to your doctor's instructions, as they may have side effects or be contraindicated in some patients.
  • A physical therapist can recommend specific exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area, which can help reduce pain and prevent recurrence of the injury.
  • In cases where pain and inflammation are persistent, corticosteroids can be infiltrated directly into the peroneal tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, which often works well.
  • A support or insole can help correct foot posture and reduce stress on the peroneal tendons.
  • In severe or chronic cases, when other treatments have not worked, surgery to release the tendon sheath or repair the peroneal tendons may be considered.