What Is Peroneal Nerve Entrapment?
The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve in the posterior thigh that runs around the outside of the knee over the head of the fibula bone. The nerve has deep and superficial branches. These branches provide sensation to the front and lateral side of the lower leg and top of the foot, as well as control the muscles of the leg that lift the ankle and toes upward (dorsiflexion). Patients with damage or injury to the peroneal nerve will most commonly experience the inability to raise their foot and difficulty walking. Other symptoms may include:
- Numbness of the top of the foot or outer lower leg
- Weakness of the foot or ankle
- Foot drop
- Loss of muscle mass in the leg
- Toes drag while walking or “slapping” gate
Peroneal nerve entrapment can develop with trauma or injury to the knee or fracture of the fibula bone. Other potential causes are tight casts or boots, pressure to the outer leg during sleep or surgery, and systemic conditions such as diabetes, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, and other autoimmune neuropathies.
Treatment for Peroneal Nerve Entrapment
Diagnosing peroneal nerve entrapment will begin with a physical exam and imaging tests such as an MRI or ultrasound. Most patients will require a nerve conduction study and EMG to confirm the diagnosis. To relieve pressure on the peroneal nerve, such options may include:
- Avoiding pressure to the area with knee padding and avoid leg crossing
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injection to reduce inflammation
- Prescription medication to help with nerve pain if present
- Surgery to release the compressed nerve, especially when muscle weakness or difficulty walking is present
Regardless of the cause, the reconstructive surgeons at our practice will develop an individualized treatment plan to help maximize your recovery.