Identifying Common Peroneal Neuropathy before Foot Drop

Johnny Chuieng Yi Lu, Jana Dengler, Louis H. Poppler, Amelia Van Handel, Andrew Linkugel, Lauren Jacobson, Susan E. MacKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Common peroneal neuropathy shares the same pathophysiology as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, management is often delayed because of the traditional misconception of recognizing foot drop as the defining symptom for diagnosis. The authors believe recognizing common peroneal neuropathy before foot drop can relieve pain and help improve quality of life. Methods: One hundred eighty-five patients who underwent surgical common peroneal neuropathy decompression between 2011 and 2017 were included. The mean follow-up time was 249 ± 28 days. Patients were classified into two stages of severity based on clinical presentation: pre-foot drop and overt foot drop. Demographics, presenting symptoms, clinical signs, electrodiagnostic studies and response to surgery were compared between these two groups. Multivariate regression analysis was used to identify variables that predicted outcome following surgery. Results: Overt foot drop patients presented with significantly lower preoperative motor function (percentage of patients with Medical Research Council grade ≤ 1: overt foot drop, 90 percent; pre-foot drop, 0 percent; p < 0.001). Pre-foot drop patients presented with a significantly higher preoperative pain visual analogue scale score (pre-foot drop, 6.2 ± 0.2; overt foot drop, 4.6 ± 0.3; p < 0.001) and normal electrodiagnostic studies (pre-foot drop, 31.4 percent; overt foot drop, 0.1 percent). Postoperatively, both groups of patients showed significant improvement in quality-of-life score (pre-foot drop, 2.6 ± 0.3; overt foot drop, 2.7 ± 0.3). Patients with obesity or a traumatic cause for common peroneal neuropathy were less likely to have improvements in quality of life after surgical decompression. Conclusion: Increased recognition of common peroneal neuropathy can aid early management, relieve pain, and improve quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-675
Number of pages12
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


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