Here in our Powder Springs podiatry practice, we treat many kinds of overuse injuries, including tendonitis. This condition, describing inflammation in your tendons, can strike anywhere you have a tendon. Common areas include your Achilles tendon, located in the back of your leg, running through your calf and ending at your heel. Now, many people have heard of this condition. But fewer are familiar with your peroneal tendons, found on the outside of your ankle. Still, when inflammation develops in these tendons, the pain is real and can impact your movement and quality of life. Want to find relief from peroneal tendonitis? Keep reading to learn how!

How Do You Treat Peroneal Tendonitis?

What is peroneal tendonitis and how do we treat it in our Powder Springs, GA podiatry practice? Well, this condition is a kind of tendonitis (tendon inflammation) that impacts the tendons connecting your lower leg to your foot, running along the outside of your ankle. You may also hear it called peroneal tendinopathy. Either way, it's a rare problem for most people, but as a type of overuse injury, it's more common among runners and athletes.

What is an Overuse Injury? man holding lower leg due to peroneal tendonitis pain

An overuse injury describes any joint or muscle problem that develops because of repetitive trauma. Typically, that trauma comes in the form of athletic activity, often caused by training too hard; training daily; or failing to stretch after exercise. Now, unlike acute injuries. overuse injuries develop slowly, over time. You see, with each repetitive motion, you subject the same part of your body to a micro trauma. (That describes a minor injury to your ligament, bone, tendon or muscle. It could result in a bone bruise, a tiny tear in the fibers of your muscle, or stress and inflammation in your tendon.)

If you give your body time to recover, those micro traumas will heal quickly. In fact, you may never know they occured. If, however, you keep pounding your body, over and over, micro traumas will accumulate, resulting in a larger injury. Some of the most common athletic overuse injuries include plantar fasciitis and turf toe. But peroneal tendonitis is another injury that falls into this category.

Peroneal Tendonitis Causes

As we mentioned earlier, peroneal tendonitis is typically an overuse injury. So that means overtraining of any kind could lead to this condition. Still, certain forms of movement are more likely than others to trigger this condition.

Hill running can cause peroneal tendonitis; as it puts your foot in a rolling position that adds pressure to the tendon on the the outside of your ankle. Similarly, marathoners and triathletes often develop this type of tendonitis, because their high-mileage training strains the peroneal tendons.

Even if you aren't a distance or hill runner, you can develop tendonitis if you don't stretch your calf muscles. Why? When your calves are tight, that increases tension on your tendons, making them rub against your bones and causing inflammation. 

Your body type and medical history can also increase your risk. If you've suffered ankle sprains in the past, that ankle weakness increases your risk for tendonitis. High arches can also contribute to your risk for this condition.

Signs and Symptoms

With peroneal tendonitis, your ankle may be painful and swollen. You may also experience lower leg pain, or discomfort on the outside of your foot, or along your instep. (Both will get worse when you're active.) Additionally, the skin around your ankle bone can become tender, red or swollen. And you may develop a mass that moves as your tendons do.  You may notice instability when you walk, or struggle to walk along uneven surfaces. Finally, on your affected ankle, your balance may be compromised.

Diagnosing and Treating Peroneal Tendonitis in Powder Springs

It can be hard to diagnose this condition because it shares symptoms with many other foot and ankle conditions. As a result, if you're asking "how do I know if I have peroneal tendonitis," the answer is that you usually can't, without getting into our podiatry practice. Luckily, we can usually get you to a proper diagnosis with a thorough exam and medical history. Sometimes, we'll order x-rays or an MRI, to rule out other diagnoses.

Once we know you're dealing with tendonitis in your ankle, we can address your pain and inflammation with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need to splint your ankle to take stress off the area. In some cases, we'll have you reduce your activity levels significantly to rest your tendons, but we'll advise you if that's necessary. And we'll do what we can to keep you active during your recovery. 

Want to reduce your down time and speed up your recovery process? Laser therapy is an excellent treatment option. It helps reduce pain and inflammation, meaning you'll be back on your feet at a much faster pace. Plus, our treatment plan won't stop once the pain is gone. Instead, many of our patients will benefit from custom orthotics. Molded to meet the exact structure of your feet, these medical devices can help take pressure off your peroneal tendons. In turn, that will reduce your risk for further or recurring injury. At the same time, they can help prevent other forms of tendinitis. And, they could even improve your athletic performance!

As with most overuse injuries, getting early treatment is the key to an easier recovery. So if you notice lower leg or exterior ankle pain during or after a workout? Don't wait around and hope things get better. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans at our office in the Lost Mountain region of Powder Springs. We'll reduce your pain and inflammation and help you safely return to your favorite athletic activities.