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Common fibular (peroneal) nerve: want to learn more about it?

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Common fibular (peroneal) nerve

The common fibular (peroneal) nerve (L4-S2) is a short, thin nerve located in the posterior compartment of the lower extremity. It arises as a terminal branch of the sciatic nerve around the apex of the popliteal fossa.

The common fibular (peroneal) nerve courses inferolaterally through the popliteal fossa, towards the head of the fibula. When it reaches the anterior compartment of the leg (underneath the fibularis longus muscle), the nerve divides into the superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve and deep fibular (peroneal) nerve.

The superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve supplies the muscles of the lateral compartment of the leg and provides sensation to the anterolateral aspect of the leg. The deep fibular (peroneal) nerve, on the other hand, mainly supplies the muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg and the dorsum of the foot.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the common fibular (peroneal) nerve.

Key facts about the common fibular (peroneal) nerve
Origin Sciatic nerve; root value (L4-S2)
Branches Articular branches, lateral sural cutaneous nerve, sural communicating branch, superficial fibular nerve, deep fibular nerve
Supply Motor: Anterior leg muscles (tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, extensor digitorum longus); lateral leg muscles (fibularis longus, fibularis brevis); dorsal foot muscles (extensor digitorum brevis, extensor hallucis brevis)
Sensory
: Skin of anterolateral leg and dorsum of foot, skin of web space between great and 2nd toes
Contents
  1. Origin and course
  2. Superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve
  3. Deep fibular (peroneal) nerve
  4. Innervation
    1. Motor innervation
    2. Sensory innervation
  5. Clinical relations
    1. "Foot drop"
  6. Sources
+ Show all

Origin and course

The common fibular (peroneal) nerve (root value L4-S2) is the smaller of two terminal branches of the sciatic nerve, the other being the tibial nerve. The common fibular (peroneal) nerve contains mainly fibers derived from the posterior division of the sacral plexus.

The nerve arises from the sciatic nerve at the distal third of the thigh, near the apex of the popliteal fossa. It then traverses the popliteal fossa inferolaterally, towards the fibular head. In the fossa, it is positioned medially to the tendon of the biceps femoris muscle, and lateral to the gastrocnemius muscle. The nerve then pierces the fascia of the leg to enter the anterior compartment of the leg. The common fibular nerve wraps around the fibular neck. Then, the nerve terminates by dividing into two terminal branches, the superficial and deep fibular (peroneal) nerves, underneath the fibularis longus muscle.

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Superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve

The superficial branch of the common peroneal nerve, also known as the superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve, arises at the bifurcation of the common peroneal nerve, between the fibula and the proximal part of fibularis longus muscle.

This nerve then descends deep to the fibularis longus muscle. It pierces the deep fascia in the distal third of the leg and subsequently divides into the medial dorsal cutaneous nerve and the intermediate dorsal cutaneous nerve. The superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve provides the motor supply to the fibularis longus and fibularis brevis muscles, and sensory supply to the skin of the lower anterolateral aspect of the leg.

Deep fibular (peroneal) nerve

The deep branch of the fibular nerve, also known as the deep fibular (peroneal) nerve, arises from the bifurcation of the common fibular nerve as well. This nerve runs through the interosseous membrane to enter the extensor (anterior) compartment of the leg for which it provides innervation.

The nerve then descends between the tibialis anterior and extensor hallucis longus on the crural interosseous membrane, accompanied by the anterior tibial artery. The deep fibular nerve terminates by dividing into lateral and medial terminal branches.

Innervation

The common fibular nerve is a mixed nerve that carries motor and sensory fibers for the innervation of the muscles and skin of the leg and foot. Additionally, it provides the articular branches that innervate the ankle joint, tarsal and metatarsophalangeal joints.

Motor innervation

The common fibular nerve is responsible for the motor innervation of the muscles in the anterior and lateral compartments of the leg. The anterior compartment consists of muscles responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot and includes the tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and extensor digitorum longus muscles. The anterior compartment is supplied by the deep branch of the common peroneal nerve. The lateral compartment of the leg is formed by the muscles responsible for the eversion of the foot and includes the fibularis longus and fibularis brevis muscles. This compartment is supplied by the superficial branch of the common fibular nerve.

Sensory innervation

The common fibular nerve provides sensory supply for the skin of the lower anterolateral aspect of the leg and most of the dorsum of foot.

More specifically, the superficial branch provides sensory supply to the anterolateral aspect of the leg, extending from midway down the leg to the majority of the dorsal aspect of the foot and toes. The deep branch innervates a portion of the skin between the first and second toes.

It is important to note that the common fibular nerve gives off a small sensory branch, the lateral sural cutaneous nerve, which provides sensation inferolaterally to the knee. This branch terminates by uniting with the medial sural cutaneous nerve (from the tibial nerve) to form the sural nerve that innervates the skin of the lateral foot and lateral lower ankle.

Common fibular (peroneal) nerve: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

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