What are the signs and symptoms of superficial peroneal nerve entrapment?

Updated: Oct 15, 2019
  • Author: Minoo Hadjari Hollis, MD; Chief Editor: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD  more...
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With superficial peroneal nerve entrapment, though patients may present with numbness or paresthesia in the distribution of the nerve and occasionally have pain about the lateral leg, the most typical presentation is vague pain over the dorsum of the foot. This pain may be chronic, remaining present for several years, and may be associated with other foot and ankle symptoms; on the other hand, it may be acute and associated with recent trauma or surgery about the ankle.

Specific measure that put the superficial peroneal nerve at risk for direct or stretch injury include the use of the anterolateral arthroscopy portal and the use of noninvasive traction methods with straps over the dorsum of the foot. About one quarter of patients have a history of previous or recurrent ankle sprains or trauma.

Typically, symptoms increase with activity (eg, running, walking, or squatting); they are often relieved by rest or the avoidance of a specific activity. This tendency is particularly pronounced in athletes whose symptoms are suggestive of exertional or chronic anterolateral compartment syndrome.

Bony entrapment of the superficial peroneal nerve in the fracture callus has also been reported when fractures of the fibula heal with abundant callus.

Certain positions (eg, crossing the leg over the opposite thigh) can induce symptoms, as can tight clothing (eg, sock elastic over the lateral leg). Pain may occasionally occur at night. Occasionally, patients report a bulging mass in the leg.

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