What is Extensor Tendonitis?

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. Extensor tendonitis 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.

Extensor Tendonitis

Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis

  • Pain on the top of foot is a common symptom of Extensor Tendonitis.
  • 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 can also be a symptom of Extensor Tendonitis.
  • Difficulty in walking.
  • Pain increases if the patient wears inappropriate or tight shoes.

Causes of Extensor Tendonitis

  • Overuse or repetitive strain is the most likely cause of Extensor Tendonitis.
  • 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 can cause Extensor Tendonitis. The extensor muscles have to work harder while running uphill and downhill.
  • Running on slippery surfaces.

Treatment for Extensor Tendonitis

  • One of the best treatment for extensor tendonitis is to rest till the pain subsides.
  • Ice or cold therapy helps in relieving pain and swelling associated with extensor tendonitis.
  • 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 associated with extensor tendonitis.
  • 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 enrol in a rehabilitation program for extensor tendonitis which comprises strengthening the extensor muscles and stretching the calf muscles to improve range of motion and flexibility.
  • Surgery as an option to treat extensor tendonitis is done only when the extensor tendons are completely torn. Otherwise it is rarely required.

Recovery Period for Extensor Tendonitis

The time taken to recover from extensor tendonitis largely depends on the severity of the tendonitis and its timely diagnosis and treatment. With proper rest and treatment with ice or cold therapy, there will be significant improvement for you to be able to start some light stretching and strengthening exercises within 7-10 days. Recovery period for a very severe extensor tendonitis can be much longer and the person may need to avoid activities like running on the terrain or uneven surfaces especially running uphill or downhill for couple of weeks.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 2, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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