Extensor Tendonitis

A Guide to Extensor Tendonitis

Extensor tendonitis is a common injury among runners. Although anyone can develop this condition, those who put their feet through greater than average stress are much more likely to encounter this form of tendonitis. Extensor tendonitis is essentially a condition in which the tendons located along the top of your foot become inflamed. These five tendons branch off of the muscles that run down the front of the leg and extend all the way down to each of the toes.

What Are the Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis?

The first and most prominent symptom of tendonitis will be a localized pain in the top of your foot. This usually occurs without any specific injury to the foot, such as dropping something heavy on the top of your foot. This seemingly out-of-the-blue pain is likely to become worse as one continues to use the foot, such as while walking or running, standing, or flexing the muscles in the foot. Eventually this pain will worsen until it is felt even while the foot is at rest. Swelling may occur on the top and sides of the foot which may or may not be accompanied by bruising. Redness is likely to ensue which may make the skin in this area warm to the touch. These symptoms are quite similar to an infection; however inflammation is a natural process within the body that works in conjunction with the immune system. If the symptoms are not treated then eventually one will notice that their gait or the manner in which they walk will change. Limping or a short-gait is common. The location and the intensity of the pain can often cause this condition to be confused with a stress fracture, however tendonitis is generally less serious.

What Causes Extensor Tendonitis?

As with any form of tendonitis, there can be many causes. Those who are active have a much higher risk of developing this condition because overuse or repetitive strain is one of the leading causes. These tendons are responsible for helping to pull the foot upwards while walking or running, and the more one uses these tendons, the more likely they are to become strained. This is particularly true of someone who runs or walks along challenging or varying terrains, such as hills, slippery surfaces (such as those covered with ice, water, or snow), or jagged terrain such as rocky or uneven patches of land. Cycling is another cause, as the constant pressure and flexing of the foot could lead to excessive strain on these tendons.

Those of us who are less active as far as running, cycling, and walking goes, are still at risk of damaging the extensor tendons through wearing ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that fit too tightly tend to cause excessive pressure against the top portion of the foot. This is particularly so of trainers and boots, where the laces can be tightened to add force onto the top of your foot.

Can this Condition be Treated at Home?

Because the treatment methods for extensor tendonitis are quite non-invasive, this condition can be treated at home. The first action to be taken during treatment is to rest the affected foot. As soon as pain is felt on the top of your foot, you should cease movement and attempt to find a place to rest and elevate the foot. Elevation will help keep excess blood from flowing to the area which can worsen swelling. It is also a good idea to add ice right away, also to reduce the severity of swelling. A foot brace or an Ace bandage is excellent to help stabilize the foot during the rest period. The initial recovery time is about three days, although sometimes it can take around four to six weeks to achieve total recovery. During this time one should not push the tendons too hard. It is also a good idea to do some light warm-up exercises before activity.