Common peroneal nerve

Zahra Sabahi and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The common peroneal nerve, also known as common fibular nerve, forms the lateral part of the sciatic nerve and supplies the leg.

One of two terminal branches of the sciatic nerve, with the division, typically occurring in the lower-third of the thigh. It arises from the posterior division of the anterior rami of L4-S2 nerve roots in the sacral plexus.

Diverges away from the sciatic nerve by sloping lateral and downwards to lie laterally in the popliteal fossa, deep to biceps femoris. It exits the popliteal fossa over the plantaris and lateral head of gastrocnemius. Here the common peroneal nerve remains subfascial as it winds its way around the fibula neck to enter the lateral compartment of the leg where it can be felt and rolled in the living. It divides into its terminal branches in the peroneus longus muscle - superficial and deep peroneal nerves.

  • peroneal communicating nerve 
    • pierces roof of popliteal fossa, runs down in the subcutaenous fat, and joins the sural nerve below the gastrocnemius bellies
  • lateral sural cutaneous nerve - pierces the roof of the fossa over the lateral gastrocnemius head  
  • superior and inferior genicular nerves - travel with the arteries of the same name and supply the lateral aspect of the knee capsule
  • recurrent genicular nerve 
    • arise in the substance of peroneus longus, perforates tibialis anterior (supplying its upper lateral fibers) and supplies the capsule of the knee joint and superior tibiofibular joint 
  • muscular branches - short head of the biceps femoris (common fibular portion of sciatic nerve)
  • terminal branches
  • anterior / deep (on posterior aspect of the leg)
    • plantaris 
    • lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle
    • knee joint capsule
    • fibular origin of soleus
  • anterior/superficial (on anterior aspect of lower leg)
    • peroneus longus 
  • cutaneous innervation
    • lateral sural cutaneous nerve
      • supplies skin and deep fascia over the upper half of the peroneal and extensor compartments
    • superficial peroneal nerve:
      • medial and intermediate dorsal cutaneous nerves supply the skin on the dorsum of the foot
    • deep peroneal nerve
      • terminal branch gives dorsal digital nerve to supply adjacent sides of the 1st and 2nd toes 
    • peroneal communicating branch 
      • joins medial sural cutaneous nerve (from tibial nerve) to form sural nerve that supplies posterolateral side of leg and dorsal aspect of lateral foot 
  • motor supply 
    • deep peroneal nerve: muscles of extensor compartment
    • superficial peroneal nerve: muscles of lateral compartment 
  • the level of division from the sciatic nerve is variable ranging from high up in the pelvis to the distal femur
  • sural communicating branch of common peroneal - absent in 20%
  • arising from the sacral pelvis separate to the tibial nerve
  • arising through the piriformis
  • arising under the piriformis
Anatomy: Lower limb

Anatomy: Lower limb

Article information

rID: 24725
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Common fibular nerve

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: popliteal fossa
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  • Case 1: denervation changes
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