The peroneal nerve is found on the outside part of the lower knee. This nerve is responsible for transmitting impulses to and from the leg, foot, and toes. When damaged, the muscles innervated by the nerve may become weak and sensation may be lost. A condition called foot drop can occur. Foot drop is the inability to raise the foot upwards.
A peroneal nerve injury is commonly caused by an injury to the leg.
Trauma to the nerve can occur with: Broken leg boneKnee injurySurgery to leg or kneeAnkle injuries
Peroneal Nerve Damage After Ankle Injury and Repair
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Prolonged pressure on the nerve can occur with: Sitting positionCast on lower leg, particularly if it is too tightBlood clots, tumors, or other masses
Factors that may increase your chance of peroneal nerve injury include: Recent trauma to legHaving a cast on your legFrequently sitting with legs crossedLong periods of bedrestBeing very thin
Peroneal nerve injury may cause: Numbness or tingling in the lower legPain in foot or shinFoot weaknessPrickling sensationPins and needles sensation
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An important part of your physical will be checking how well your nerves and muscles are working in certain parts of your leg. Your doctor may want to watch you as you walk.
Tests may include the following: X-raysMRI scanElectromyography
(EMG) or other nerve conduction tests
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:
A therapist will work with you to strengthen your leg and foot muscles.
is used to treat foot drop.
In some cases, surgery is used to treat a peroneal nerve injury. Surgical involves taking pressure off the nerve (decompressive surgery).
To reduce your chance of a peroneal nerve injury: Avoid crossing your legsMove around frequentlyIf you work on your knees, wear protectionIf you have a cast on your leg, let your doctor know right away if you are having numbness or tingling.
Mononeuropathies. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/peripheral-nervous-system-and-motor-unit-disorders/mononeuropathies. Updated September 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
NINDS foot drop information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/foot_drop/foot_drop.htm. Updated January 29, 2009. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Stewart JD. Foot drop: where, why and what to do?
Pract Neurol. 2008;8(3):158-169.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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