Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain
What is the Superior Tibiofibular Joint?
Your superior tibiofibular joint (also known as the proximal tibiofibular joint) is the joint between your tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) immediately below the outside of your knee. This joint is important in allowing twisting movements of the leg, as well as load transfer between your feet and the rest of your body.
Ligaments and joint capsules surrounding the joint offer more stability during movement and weight bearing.
Importantly, the peroneal nerve (a nerve that supplies the lower leg and toes) wraps around the top of the fibula and can also be implicated if there is an injury to the superior tibiofibular joint.
What Causes a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?
The superior tibiofibular joint is most commonly injured following a traumatic incident involving the knee.
Other causes of dysfunction in this area include:
What are the Symptoms of a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?
Injuries affecting the superior tibiofibular joint may or may not occur in conjunction with injuries to other joints in the knee. Symptoms of a superior tibiofibular joint injury commonly include:
If you have an injury to the superior tibiofibular joint and the peroneal nerve is affected, you may also experience pins and needles and/or numbness in the lower leg and foot. You may also experience foot or ankle weakness.
How is a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain Diagnosed?
On examination, your physiotherapist or sports doctor will look for signs of a superior tibiofibular joint injury. A palpation examination that tests the stability of the joint is normally all that is required to diagnose a superior tibiofibular injury. An MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis.
What is the Treatment for a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?
Most patients with a superior tibiofibular injury start to recover within a few weeks of the injury with the appropriate rehabilitation.
Your physiotherapy treatment will aim to:
We strongly suggest that you discuss your knee injury with a knee injury clinician such as a sports physiotherapist, sports physician or knee surgeon. This will provide you with the most accurate information regarding your specific injury and rehabilitation program.
Most injuries to the superior tibiofibular joint resolve completely with conservative treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Risks of surgery include infection, persistent instability and pain, stiffness, and difficulty returning to your previous level of activity. The good news is that better than 90% of patients have no complications post-surgery.
Post-operative knee rehabilitation is one of the most important, yet too often neglected, aspects of knee surgery. The most successful and quickest outcomes result from the guidance and supervision of an experienced Sports Physiotherapist.
Your rehabilitation following knee surgery focuses on restoring full knee motion, strength, power and endurance. You'll also require balance, proprioception and agility retraining that is individualised towards your specific sporting or functional needs.
Please contact your trusted physiotherapist for specific rehabilitation advice.
How to Prevent a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of sustaining a superior tibiofibular injury. These include:
Return to Sports with a Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain
Athletes sometimes have particular difficulty returning to their sport once they have sustained a superior tibiofibular joint injury. It is important to complete your full, specialised rehabilitation program as prescribed by your physiotherapist in order to return to sport as quickly and safely as possible.
For more advice, please consult with your sports physiotherapist.
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