Peroneal Nerve Palsy: Evaluation and Management

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2016 Jan;24(1):1-10. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00420.


Peroneal nerve palsy is the most common entrapment neuropathy of the lower extremity. Numerous etiologies have been identified; however, compression remains the most common cause. Although injury to the nerve may occur anywhere along its course from the sciatic origin to the terminal branches in the foot and ankle, the most common site of compressive pathology is at the level of the fibular head. The most common presentation is acute complete or partial foot drop. Associated numbness in the foot or leg may be present, as well. Neurodiagnostic studies may be helpful for identifying the site of a lesion and determining the appropriate treatment and prognosis. Management varies based on the etiology or site of compression. Many patients benefit from nonsurgical measures, including activity modification, bracing, physical therapy, and medication. Surgical decompression should be considered for refractory cases and those with compressive masses, acute lacerations, or severe conduction changes. Results of surgical decompression are typically favorable. Tendon and nerve transfers can be used in the setting of failed decompression or for patients with a poor prognosis for nerve recovery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Fibula / innervation
  • Foot / innervation
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia / etiology
  • Lower Extremity / innervation
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications*
  • Peroneal Nerve*
  • Peroneal Neuropathies / etiology*
  • Peroneal Neuropathies / surgery*