Extensor tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons which straighten the toes. They run along the top of the foot and are known as the extensor tendons.
Symptoms of Extensor Tendinitis?
Pain on the top of the foot (dorsal foot pain).
Diffuse swelling on the top of the foot.
Pain along the top of the foot which is worse during running.
Pain when the tendons are passively stretched.
Extensor Tendinitis Explained
The muscles affected can be the Tibialis Anterior, Extensor Hallucis Longus, Extensor Hallucis Brevis. Inflammation of the tibialis anterior is most common but inflammation of the extensor digitorum muscles is also possible.
- Badly fitting shoes or shoes that are laced far too tightly causing pressure on the top of the foot.
- It can also be caused by a change in training methods or running terrain, particularly hill running.
Running uphill means the extensor muscles must work harder to lift the foot and downhill they have to work harder eccentrically to slow the foot.
- Running on icy or slippery surfaces can also be a cause.
Extensor Tendonitis Treatment
What can the athlete do about inflamed extensor tendons?
Rest until there is no more pain.
Apply ice or cold therapy.
Alter shoes or get shoes that fit properly!
Ensure shoe laces are not too tightly tied.
Pad the shoe in the forefoot to take the pressure off.
Follow a rehabilitation programme including strengthening of the extensor muscles and stretching the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
Consider the possibility of a metatarsal stress fracture (often pain on passive stretching indicates tendinitis, but pain when the toes are pulled outwards might indicate a stress fracture).
If it is a long term problem a steroid injection may be given.
In very rare cases surgery is performed.