Is a Tens Unit Effective for Peroneal Tendon Pain?


According to the University of Michigan Health System, the peroneal muscles are on the outside of the lower leg, with tendons attached to the foot. Injuries and strains are common in the peroneal tendons, and if traditional treatment fails, using a TENS unit can effectively relieve the pain of peroneal injuries.

Peroneal Injuries

  • Peroneal tendon injuries can occur suddenly or develop over a period of time, most commonly affecting those active in sports with repetitive motion of the ankle. Those with high arches also encounter these injuries.

    Tendonitis can inflame one or both tendons, which is a result of overusing or injuring the tendon. It leads to pain, swelling and a warm feeling when touched.

    Repetitive activity or trauma can cause acute tears to the peroneal tendon. Symptoms may include pain, swollen peroneal tendon and weakness of the foot and ankle. Over time, tears can change the shape of the foot, making the arch higher.


  • The diagnostic process begins at the foot and ankle surgeon's office. A complete examination of the foot and ankle will be performed. An MRI or ultrasound may be necessary to evaluate the extent of the injury.

Traditional Treatment

  • Treatment is based on your type of peroneal tendon injury and could include applying a cast or splint to keep the foot and ankle area still, or physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken orally or injected to help relieve pain and inflammation. If immobilization, physical therapy and medications don't control symptoms, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendons, followed by physical therapy.

TENS Unit Treatment

  • A TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit can be used as a pain reliever for almost any part of the body by sending small square electrical pulses to the electrodes. They are then transmitted to the underlying nerves of the part being treated. The TENS unit is portable and can be clipped to your belt, shirt pocket or bra. You can adjust the unit according to your pain.

Obtaining a TENS Unit

  • A TENS unit is available by prescription. A physical therapist may have a TENS unit for use during physical therapy appointments.

Pain Relief

  • The TENS unit provides pain relief in 30 minutes or less. It can be used all day or several hours at a time.

Who Should Not Use a TENS Unit

  • Avoid using A TENS unit if you have:
    • Cardiac pacemaker
    • Cancer
    • Impaired circulation
    • A heart condition
    • Epilepsy
    • Injury in the head area
    • Injury that requires electrodes to be placed on the neck near the carotid artery

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