Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Extensor Digitorum, Its Origin & Function

The Extensor Digitorum Muscle which is also known by the name of Extensor Digitorum Communis muscle is an important muscle, which is located behind the forearm. The function of the Extensor Digitorum Muscle is to facilitate movements of the wrists and elbows. Additionally, it facilitates extension of the fingers II through V. The Extensor Digitorum Muscle originates from the lateral epicondyle and then it is divided into four tendons. These tendons traverse through an opening present in the lateral carpal ligament, which is present between a fibrous tissue sheath. These tendons ultimately become separate in the posterior portion of the hand and enter into the distal and middle finger phalanges. The tendons which enter the forefingers are interconnected with the help of slanting bands which are known as sagittal bands. The function of these bands is to keep the tendons correctly aligned above the metacarpal head.

What Can Cause Pain in Extensor Digitorum Muscle?

Some of the activities that may result in damage or injury to the Extensor Digitorum Muscle and cause pain include:

  • Repetitive typing
  • Piano players are at an increased risk for damaging the Extensor Digitorum Muscle
  • Individuals who use tools like a hammer or screwdrivers repetitively can also end up injuring the Extensor Digitorum muscle and experience pain.
  • Sportsmen involved with sports like tennis are also at an increased risk for injuring or straining the Extensor Digitorum muscle.
  • People involved in continuous writing using a pen or a pencil can also end up straining the Extensor Digitorum.
  • Elderly females who pass their time knitting and crocheting are also at risk of straining the Extensor Digitorum Muscle.

Signs And Symptoms Associated With Extensor Digitorum Muscle Pain

Some of the signs and symptoms which may indicate towards an Extensor Digitorum Muscle damage or injury are:

  • Excruciating pain in the middle finger radiating behind the hand
  • This pain can radiate towards the back of the forearm and to the elbow
  • Severe pain felt in the front part of the wrist just below the palm
  • A reduced grip strength
  • Stiffness of the fingers

What Are The Risk Factors of Extensor Digitorum Pain?

Some of the medical conditions that can be caused as a result of an injury to the Extensor Digitorum Muscle are:

What Is The Treatment For Extensor Digitorum Pain?

Cold Therapy: For treating extensor digitorum muscle pain, one can try using cold therapy, the most recommended treatment is using a Biofreeze gel. This gel has been shown to be quite useful in relieving pain and discomfort caused due to a injured or strained extensor digitorum muscle. This gel tends to cool the inflamed area quickly and prevents development of swelling due to the cooling effect. To use this gel, gently rub it at the injured side both at the front and back starting just at the elbow going down all the way to the tip of the thumb.

Wrist Ice Wrap: When an individual has pain due to an injured extensor digitorum muscle, then just treating the thumb pain is not sufficient, but the whole muscle needs to be treated. For this the Ice Wrist Wrap has been shown to be quite beneficial, as it covers the entire muscle and provides compression and helps in healing of the muscle. To begin with, you can start wearing the wrap for about 20 minutes and then gradually increase the time. You can also adjust the wrap so as to cover the thumb as well. Also helpful can be using a frozen wash rag wrapped around the thumb along with using the wrap as this combination will completely cover the muscle and allow it to heal faster. Additionally, Biofreeze gel can also be applied along with using the wrap for additional comfort.

Wrist-Elbow Wraps: The majority of the pain felt due to extensor digitorum muscle injury or strain is in the wrist and hand areas, it is also important to treat the muscle right from its origin which is from the elbow for better results. For this, an Elbow Ice Wrap quite a good option to relieve pain caused due to a damaged extensor digitorum muscle or strained extensor digitorum communis muscle. This can be used successfully by positioning the wrap around the wrist and base of thumb for relieving the discomfort in the area and gently moving the wrap towards the elbow such that the entire muscle right from the forearm to the wrist and thumb is wrapped. This allows complete healing of the muscle.

Warm Therapy: There are a lot of gels readily available in the market, which can be used to treat extensor digitorum muscle pain. Such gels provide required warmth to the muscle which expedites healing process. Arthritis patients can use such gels for instant pain relief. The gel can be applied can be applied on the inside part of the elbow and the wrist region several times a day for maximum benefit. One must make sure to not use heating gels while simultaneously using ice or heat packs as this may lead to blistering of the skin.

Arm Compression Sleeves: These have also been shown to be quite effective in relieving pain and discomfort caused due to strained extensor digitorum muscle. These sleeves provide more support to the muscle and prevent it from any reinjury and also help in recovery. It is mostly used by people who have significant pain affecting their activities of daily living and athletes along with people who use tools quite often in their work.

Forearm Band: There are also quite a few elbow bands available which are used for conditions like tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries and have been found to be very useful. An example of it is the BandIT. This wrap is worn by many athletes for protection and prevents repetitive stress injuries and has been found to be extremely useful, although it is not suggested as a long term treatment for muscle damage due to muscle overuse.

Compression Gloves: This is also quite an effective way for preventing or calming down the symptoms caused by a strained extensor digitorum muscle. These gloves are easily available in the market and are also affordable.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 14, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest