The tendons that line the outside of the ankle are known as the peroneal tendons. These tendons attach to the bone behind the ankle which is called the fibula. It is important that these tendons function properly because they connect the muscle to the bone which allows you to walk properly. If you are experiencing a peroneal tendinopathy, then you have constant pain and swelling in the peroneal tendons. This type of ache can have an underlying issue caused by a torn peroneal tendon.
Causes of a Torn Peroneal Tendon
A torn peroneal tendon can stem from many different types of injuries. A previous ankle sprain can cause a torn peroneal tendon, especially if the sprain was not cured properly. Below is a list of other things that can cause a torn peroneal tendon.
- Genetic or degenerative disorders
- Chronic looseness of the ankle
- Overuse of the ankle and foot
- Abnormal foot position
- Muscle Imbalance
The major cause of most physical injuries is physical contact or falling while playing sports. Sports injuries make up at least 50% of all injuries, including a torn peroneal tendon. Some of the symptoms of experiencing this type of injury include:
- Pain around the ankle
- Pain in the knees and legs
- Swelling of the ankle and surrounding area
- Tenderness when touching behind or near the ankle
- Inability to run or jog
- Pain when stretching or working out
- Trouble standing
- Pain when walking
If there is a noticeable injury of the ankle, doctors will perform different tests to indicate the cause of the injury, such as a torn peroneal tendon. Different types of tests that can be done to diagnose this type of injury include the following:
- X-Ray: This type of test will help check for fractures of the ankle.
- Ultrasound: This is a non-invasive way to get a closer look at scar tissue and tears of the tendon.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Only in severe causes can an MRI help see the extensiveness of the damage done to the ankle.
- Computerized tomography scan (CT or CAT scan): If an MRI cannot help get a clear look at the ankle, then a CT scan can divulge further into the area to look for tears or cartilage damage.
Depending on the type and severity of the torn peroneal tendon, doctors will request different types of treatment. One of the more common ways to treat this injury is with R.I.C.E. This type of treatment includes plenty of rest, using ice to reduce the swelling and bruising, using a support brace or compression bandage around the area and keeping the affected area elevated when resting.
If you are experiencing any pain, taking medications such as anti-inflammatories and acetaminophen can help. In certain cases, simple exercise can help strengthen the torn peroneal tendon. If there is a severe case of a torn peroneal tendon then surgery will be recommended. This type of surgery is roughly less than 2 hours and surgeons will sew together two tendons to make one strong tendon.
The best way to recover from a torn peroneal tendon is to get plenty of rest. If surgery was required to fix the tear, then wearing an ankle splint or a cast will help keep the ankle elevated and prevent further damage. Once the ankle splint or cast has been removed, doctors usually recommend walking with a cane or walker to help regain balance. You should be back to normal activities within 3-6 months of surgery. Physical therapy can help patients will a torn peroneal tendon prior and post-surgery. Physical therapy can also help patients who do not need surgery.
To help prevent a torn peroneal tendon from occurring or recurring, there are things you can do such as: wear comfortable shoes, do not overuse the ankle, do not overexert yourself while working out and wear the protective gear when playing sports.