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What Is Peroneal Neuropathy?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Peroneal neuropathy, also commonly referred to as foot drop, is a medical term used to describe a dysfunction of the peroneal nerve. This nerve connects the lower leg, foot and toes to the brain. Damage to this nerve tends to cause the foot to droop in a downward motion at the ankle. Chronic pain is the most frequently reported symptom of peroneal neuropathy and can be treated with pain medications, supportive devices or surgical intervention. Any questions or concerns about peroneal neuropathy or the most appropriate treatment methods for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Physical trauma is the leading cause of the development of peroneal neuropathy. This might occur from twisting an ankle, suffering a direct blow to the side of the knee or spending prolonged amounts of time with the knee pressed against a hard surface. In some cases, peroneal neuropathy might be caused by surgical procedures. Occasionally, the exact cause of this condition cannot be positively identified.

Symptoms of peroneal neuropathy might include pain, numbness and the tell-tale sign of foot drop. Pain is the most frequently reported symptom and might range from mild to severe in nature. In the milder cases, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen might provide sufficient relief from the discomfort associated with this condition. In more severe cases, prescription strength pain relievers or other medications can be used to help the patient function as normally as possible.

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Physical therapy or the use of supportive devices, such as braces, might be used in the treatment of peroneal neuropathy. Muscle weakness and partial or complete paralysis can sometimes occur as a result of this medical condition, and the use of supportive devices and physical therapy can help prevent the muscles from wasting away. These treatment options typically are used along with medications in an effort to avoid the need for surgical intervention.

In the most severe cases of peroneal neuropathy, when other methods of treatment have not been successful, surgery might be necessary. The type of surgery performed depends on the direct cause of the nerve damage. Any tumors or masses that are compressing the nerve might need to be removed, or the damaged portion of the nerve might be removed and the healthy ends that remain are surgically joined together. The doctor will discuss the most appropriate treatment options with the patient on an individual basis.

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