Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain


Article by J. MillerS.Armfield

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:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Poor biomechanics of the knee and/or ankle joints
  • Muscle imbalances in the lower limb
  • Repetitive forces going through the knee and ankle
  • Presence of a physical lesion, e.g. ganglion, neoplasms
  • Hypomobility (not enough movement) of the tibiofibular joint
  • Hypermobility (too much movement) of the tibiofibular joint
  • Fatigue

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:

  • Pain over the outer aspect of the knee
  • Redness and/or swelling over the outside of the knee
  • Pain which is aggravated by weight-bearing activities, especially those involving high loads going through the lower limb such as running, quick direction changes or jumping
  • Feelings of weakness or giving way around the knee

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:

  1. Reduce pain and inflammation
  2. Normalise joint range of motion
  3. Strengthen the muscles of your lower limb
  4. Improve patellofemoral (knee cap) alignment
  5. Normalise your muscle lengths
  6. Improve your proprioception, agility and balance
  7. Improve your technique and function eg walking, running, squatting, hopping and landing
  8. Minimise your chance of re-injury

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-Surgical Rehabilitation

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:

  • Correcting poor biomechanics of the knee and/or ankle joints
  • Adequate warm-up and stretching program before and after exercise
  • Correcting muscle imbalances in the lower limb
  • Adequate footwear during exercise
  • Avoid sudden increases in training frequency and/or intensity

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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Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain Treatment Options

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Orthotics
  • Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
  • FAQs about Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • When Should Diagnostic Tests Be Performed?
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • Barefoot Running: Your MUST READ Guide to the Pro's and Con's.
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Heat Packs. Why Does Heat Feel So Good?
  • How Can You Prevent a Future Leg Injury?
  • How Much Treatment Will You Need?
  • Post-Run Soreness: Should You Be Concerned?
  • Runners: How to Reduce Your Knee Stress
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What Can You Do To Help Arthritis?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When Can You Return to Sport?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
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    Book Online

    Helpful Products for Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain

    Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

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    Last updated 26-Sep-2019 11:21 AM

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