The superficial peroneal nerve branches off from the sciatic nerve, or the common peroneal nerve, which ultimately winds around the head of the fibula, or shinbone, near the knee. The superficial peroneal nerve is connected to two muscles in the lower leg: the peroneus brevis and the peroneus longus. 

The superficial peroneal nerve follows the perimeter of the fascia, between the leg’s anterior and lateral compartments. It pierces the fascia lata to emerge and then travels into the leg’s subcutaneous tissues.

Because the nerve powers the muscles that lift the toes and feet, damage to it may cause a severe condition known as ‘foot drop’. Foot drop is characterized by pain and numbness in the shin and on top of the foot, as well as weakness during foot extension.