Peroneal Nerve Dysfunction

Peroneal nerve dysfunction is a type of peripheral neuropathy that is specific to the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is branch of the sciatic nerve, which supplies movement and sensation to the lower extremities.

Symptoms

Decreased sensation, numbness or tingling in the foot or outer part of the legs, weakness of the ankles or feet, walking abnormalities, foot drop, a "slapping" gait, toes dragging while walking.

About this Condition

Peroneal nerve dysfunction is a type of peripheral neuropathy that is specific to the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is branch of the sciatic nerve, which supplies movement and sensation to the lower extremities. Damage to this nerve is most often caused by a one time injury, such as a knee, leg, or ankle sprain or fracture; however, it can also be caused by habitual leg crossing, and prolonged immobility. This condition can affect people at any age. Certain health factors such as anorexia, diabetic neuropathy, and exposure to certain toxins can increase your risk of peroneal nerve injury.

Peroneal nerve dysfunction is typically diagnosed by a physical examination of the legs and feet. An MRI or CT scan may be used to confirm the compression of the nerve. Electrodiagnostic tests such as EMGs and NCVs may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

The prognosis for patients with peroneal nerve dysfunction depends on the underlying cause. This condition is not normally life-threatening, but the pain can be uncomfortable. Decompression of the peroneal nerve may not fully resolve the pain associated with this condition.  In some cases, if the injury to the nerve is severe, the disability may be permanent.

This content is for your general education only. See your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to discuss an appropriate treatment plan.

Conservative Treatments

Steroid Injections

In some cases steroid injections may be recommended to reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve. A steroid is often combined with an anesthetic and injected into the area around the irritated nerves that are causing the pain.  Steroids reduce nerve irritation by inhibiting production of the proteins that cause inflammation; the anesthetic blocks nerve conduction in the area where it's applied, numbing the sensation of pain. If the symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary.

Surgery

Peroneal Nerve Decompression

Peroneal nerve decompression is performed to reduce pressure on the peroneal nerve and to remove any lesions.

The procedure involves a small incision below the lateral knee, following the course of the nerve. The nerve is found initially posteromedial to the biceps femoris. It is tracked distally to where it branches to the deep and superficial branches. The nerve is released fully by initially separating the lateral septum between the peroneus longus and soleus aponeurosis, retracting the peroneus longus muscle medially, and fully dividing the superficial and deep portions of the fibrous arch. Any sites of entrapment or compression along this route are released. Nerve grafting may be warranted in severe cases in which the nerve is structurally damaged or severed.

[Source: National Institutes for Health]

Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.