The bone on the outermost portion of your lower leg is called the “fibula.” Your fibula is joined to the larger “tibia” at the ankle and the knee. These connections allow for better function and dispersal of weight (1/6th of your body weight is supported by the fibula).
Proper function of your knee requires natural gliding movements of the tibia/ fibula joint. The diagnosis of “Fibular head dysfunction” means that this joint has been “sprained” or has become “stuck” in an abnormal position. Fibular head problems affect all age groups but are particularly common in young females.
Problems involving the fibular head are often the result of an injury to your leg, hamstring, or ankle. Sports and activities that require violent twisting motions with the knee bent are particularly suspect. Athletes who participate in football, soccer, rugby, wrestling, gymnastics, judo, broad jumping, dancing, long jumping, and skiing may be more likely to suffer this type of injury. Patients who sprain their ankle or slip and fall with their knee flexed under their body may suffer fibular head problems. Sometimes, symptoms begin without an identifiable injury.
Patients with fibular head problems generally complain of pain on the outside of their knee. Symptoms become more intense with weight bearing or when applying pressure over the irritated area. Sometimes, the condition affects both knees at the same time. In more severe cases, you may experience numbness or tingling on the outside of your leg. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice numbness, tingling, or weakness in your leg or ankle.
In most cases, fibular head dysfunction is treatable with conservative care, like the type provided in our office. Initially, you may need to limit excessive twisting movements and hyperflexion, (i.e. heel to butt.) Taping or bracing may help patients who have suffered a sprain or have an “unstable” joint.