Superior Tibiofibular Joint

Superior Tibiofibular Joint (STFJ)

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

What is the Superior Tibiofibular Joint?

The superior tibiofibular joint, also called the proximal tibiofibular joint, is a crucial joint located between the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg, just below the lateral knee. This joint plays a vital role in allowing rotational movements of the leg and transferring loads between the foot and the leg. The joint is surrounded by ligaments and joint capsules that provide stability during weight-bearing and movement.

It is worth noting that the peroneal nerve, which supplies sensation and movement to the lower leg and toes, wraps around the top of the fibula and can be at risk of injury if there is damage to the superior tibiofibular joint.

What Causes a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?

A sprain of the superior tibiofibular joint typically results from a traumatic incident involving the knee. However, several other factors can lead to dysfunction in this area, including osteoarthritis, poor biomechanics of the knee or ankle joints, repetitive stress on the knee and ankle, muscle imbalances in the lower limb, and the presence of other physical lesions, such as ganglion or neoplasms. Additionally, hypomobility or hypermobility of the tibiofibular joint and fatigue can contribute to this type of injury.

What are the Symptoms of a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?

Injuries to the superior tibiofibular joint can occur alone or in conjunction with injuries to other knee joints. Symptoms of a superior tibiofibular joint sprain commonly include pain over the outer aspect of the knee and a localised swelling in the joint. Pain may worsen with weight-bearing activities, particularly those involving high loads, such as running, quick direction changes, or jumping. Patients may also experience feelings of weakness or giving way around the knee.

Patients may also experience pins and needles or numbness in the lower leg and foot, as well as foot or ankle weakness when the peroneal nerve is affected.

How is a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain Diagnosed?

To diagnose a superior tibiofibular joint sprain, a physiotherapist or sports doctor will typically conduct a physical examination of the joint, including palpation to assess joint stability. In some cases, an MRI may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. During the physical examination, the doctor or therapist may also assess other knee joint structures to rule out concurrent injuries. They may also inquire about the patient’s medical history and the circumstances surrounding the injury.

What is the Treatment for a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?


The treatment for a superior tibiofibular joint sprain typically involves physiotherapy, with most patients recovering within a few weeks of the injury with appropriate rehabilitation. The goal of physiotherapy is to reduce pain and inflammation, normalise joint range of motion, strengthen the muscles of the lower limb, improve patellofemoral alignment, normalise muscle lengths, improve proprioception, agility, and balance, and improve technique and function, such as walking, running, squatting, hopping, and landing.

We recommend consulting with a knee injury clinician such as a sports physiotherapist, sports physician, or knee surgeon to accurately assess the injury and develop an individualised rehabilitation program. This approach will minimise the risk of re-injury and ensure the most effective treatment for the specific injury.


Surgery is not commonly required for superior tibiofibular joint injuries, as most cases can be successfully resolved with conservative treatment. However, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary. It is important to note that surgery carries risks such as infection, persistent instability and pain, stiffness, and difficulty returning to previous levels of activity. Fortunately, complications post-surgery are rare, occurring in less than 10% of patients.

Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

If you require surgery, post-operative rehabilitation is crucial for the best outcomes. It is recommended to work with an experienced sports physiotherapist who can guide and supervise your rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation program should focus on restoring full knee motion, strength, power, and endurance. Additionally, balance, proprioception, and agility retraining should be tailored to your specific functional needs.

For specific rehabilitation advice, it is best to consult with your trusted physiotherapist.

How to Prevent a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?

To prevent a superior tibiofibular joint sprain, it is recommended to take the following measures:

  • Correct any poor biomechanics of the knee or ankle joints
  • Perform an adequate warm-up and stretching program before and after exercise
  • Address any muscle imbalances in the lower limb
  • Wear appropriate footwear during exercise
  • Avoid sudden increases in training frequency or intensity.

Return to Sports with a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain

Returning to sports after a superior tibiofibular joint sprain can be challenging for athletes. It is essential to follow the full rehabilitation program prescribed by your physiotherapist to ensure a safe and quick return to sports.


If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your knee or suspect a superior tibiofibular joint sprain, it’s important to seek medical advice from a knee injury clinician such as a sports physiotherapist, sports physician, or knee surgeon. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can help to prevent further damage and ensure the best possible outcome. Additionally, taking preventative measures such as correcting poor biomechanics, warming up properly before exercise, and wearing appropriate footwear can help to reduce your risk of sustaining a superior tibiofibular injury. Don’t let knee pain hold you back from your daily activities or sports – seek professional help and take control of your knee health.

Knee Pain Causes

A Comprehensive Guide

Knee pain is often a symptom of underlying issues ranging from acute injuries to systemic health conditions. Identifying knee pain causes is essential for effective treatment. This guide offers an overview of potential culprits, providing a pathway to understanding and addressing your knee discomfort.

Knee Pain Causes
Knee Pain Causes

Knee Ligament Injuries

Ligament injuries, such as ACL and PCL tears, are significant knee pain causes. They can lead to instability and severe discomfort, requiring prompt medical evaluation.

ACL Injuries

An ACL injury is a common sports-related knee injury that can lead to long-term knee pain and require surgical intervention.

Knee Meniscus Injuries

Meniscus tears, often caused by twisting or turning quickly, are prevalent knee pain causes, with treatment options varying based on severity.

Kneecap Pain

Pain in the kneecap can arise from various conditions, affecting your ability to engage in daily activities comfortably.

Knee Arthritis

Arthritis is a leading cause of knee pain, particularly in older adults, with symptoms that can significantly impair quality of life.

Knee Tendon Injuries

Tendon injuries can result from overuse or sudden, high-impact activities, contributing to ongoing knee pain.

Muscle Injuries

Muscle strains and related conditions are common knee pain causes, especially among athletes and active individuals.

Knee Bursitis

Inflammation of the bursae can cause significant knee pain, often requiring targeted treatment to reduce symptoms.

Children’s Knee Conditions

Young athletes can experience specific knee conditions related to growth and activity levels.

Other Knee-Related Conditions

Various other conditions can lead to knee pain, necessitating a broad understanding of potential knee pain causes.

Knee Surgery

In some cases, surgical intervention may be the best option to address certain knee pain causes effectively.

Seek Professional Advice

For tailored information regarding your knee pain, consult a healthcare professional with experience in knee conditions, such as a knee physiotherapist, sports physician or knee surgeon. They can provide a personalised assessment and treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Knee Pain Products & FAQs

A variety of products can support knee pain management. Browse our selection and read our FAQs to learn more about how to alleviate knee discomfort. More info: Knee Pain Products & FAQs

With this guide, you’re better equipped to understand the various knee pain causes and take the first step towards recovery. Remember, early intervention by a skilled physiotherapist can significantly improve your outcomes and assist in returning you to a pain-free, active lifestyle.

Knee Pain FAQs

Knee pain is a widespread issue, impacting individuals of varying ages and lifestyles. Causes range from injuries and wear and tear to conditions like arthritis. This FAQ section aims to provide insights into knee pain, covering diagnosis, ligament issues, ACL injuries, meniscal injuries, age and arthritis concerns, and pain relief methods through exercise and treatment.

Feel free to click on the questions to for deeper discussions into each topic.

knee pain faqs
Knee Pain Faqs

Diagnosis Related

How Can I Determine If My Knee Injury Is Serious?

  • Learn to assess the severity of your knee injury based on symptoms and situations.

How Can I Identify The Type Of Knee Injury I Have?

  • Discover how different knee injuries manifest and what signs to look for.

When Should I Seek a Physiotherapist or Doctor for My Knee Injury?

  • Find out the right time to consult professionals for your knee concerns.

Is Knee Clicking a Sign of a Serious Condition?

  • Understand what knee clicking indicates about your joint health.

When Should I Consider Getting a MRI for My Knee?

  • Learn about the circumstances when an MRI becomes necessary.

Why Has My Knee Suddenly Started Hurting?

  • Explore potential reasons behind sudden knee pain.

Why Does My Knee Hurt On The Inner Side?

  • Identify causes of inner knee pain and when to seek help.

Knee Ligament Related

What Are The Common Symptoms of a Torn Ligament in the Knee?

  • Recognise the signs of a torn knee ligament.

Can I Walk With A Torn Ligament In My Knee?

  • Understand the feasibility and risks of walking with a torn ligament.

ACL Related

What are the Consequences of Not Getting Surgery for an ACL Injury?

  • Learn about the long-term effects of untreated ACL injuries.

What Are The Symptoms Of An ACL Tear?

  • Identify the key signs of an ACL tear.

Meniscus Related

Is Surgery Necessary for a Meniscal Injury?

  • Discover when surgery is essential for meniscal injuries.

Can a Torn Meniscus Heal Without Surgery?

  • Find out if meniscal tears can heal naturally.

Age & Arthritis Related

At What Age Do Knee Problems Typically Begin?

  • Learn about the onset age for common knee problems.

What are the Common Symptoms of Arthritis in the Knee?

  • Identify arthritis symptoms in the knee.

Running Related

What are Some Ways that Runners Can Reduce Knee Stress?

  • Explore methods for runners to minimise knee stress.

Knee Treatment & Exercise Related

Is Walking Good For Knee Pain?

  • Understand the benefits of walking for knee pain.

What are Some Effective Ways to Relieve Knee Pain?

  • Discover various methods to alleviate knee pain.

How Much Walking is Recommended for Individuals with Knee Pain?

  • Learn the ideal walking duration for those with knee pain.

Related Articles

You've just added this product to the cart: