The extensor tendon is a tendon that passes along the top of foot. The function of these tendons is dorsiflexion of the toes. Extensor tendonitis is a medical condition where there is inflammation of these tendons. This condition can be very painful, so much so that it can be mistaken for a fracture of the foot. Individuals who are physically very active or involved in sports such as runners, hikers, skiers and cyclists are commonly affected by this condition.
Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis
- Pain is present on the top of foot.
- Worsening pain with activity.
- Swelling is present on the top of foot.
- Bruising may also be present.
- Tenderness to touch.
- Pain upon passive stretching of the tendons.
- Difficulty in walking.
- Pain increases if the patient wears inappropriate or tight shoes.
Causes of Extensor Tendonitis
- Overuse or repetitive strain.
- Tight or ill fitting shoes causing pressure on the top region of foot.
- Change in the training regime of an athlete such as running on the terrain or uneven surfaces especially running uphill or downhill. The extensor muscles have to work harder while running uphill and downhill.
- Running on slippery surfaces.
Treatment for Extensor Tendonitis
- Rest till the pain subsides.
- Ice or cold therapy helps in pain and swelling.
- Change of foot wear or wearing proper fitting shoes.
- Shoe laces should not be strongly tied.
- The shoe can be padded in the forefoot area to decrease the pressure.
- Patient should seek consultation of a sports injury specialist.
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen help in reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Metatarsal stress fracture should be ruled out by taking x-rays.
- If there is no benefit and the problem becomes chronic, then steroid injections can be given.
- Patient should enroll in a rehabilitation program comprising of strengthening the extensor muscles and stretching the calf muscles to improve range of motion and flexibility.
- Surgery is done only when the extensor tendons are completely torn. Otherwise it is rarely required.