Coping with Extensor Tendonitis

3 min read

The term tendonitis simply refers to the inflammation of a tendon.  It can occur in any tendon in the body.  When the inflammation occurs in the extensor tendons in the feet, it is known as extensor tendonitis.  The extensor tendons are located in the top of the foot; their job is to keep the toes straight.

Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis

People who have extensor tendonitis experience pain in the top of the foot.  The pain gets worse with physical activity.  Curling the toes can also exacerbate pain, because it causes the extensor tendons to stretch.  Extensor tendonitis can also cause swelling across the top of the foot.

Causes of Extensor Tendonitis

In most cases, extensor tendonitis is caused by strain or overuse.  Changes to your training routine can lead to extensor tendonitis.  This can include changes in the amount of training as well as changes in training method.  Things like wearing different shoes or running on a different surface can lead to inflammation of the tendons.

Running uphill on a treadmill is particularly hard on the extensor tendons.  Even wearing shoes that are laced too tight or don’t fit properly can lead to inflammation of the extensor tendons.

What to Do About Extensor Tendonitis

So, if you have extensor tendonitis, what can you do about it?  First of all, you should rest until it feels better.  Don’t train through the pain; doing so will just exacerbate the injury and make it take longer to heal.  You can help to reduce the inflammation by using cold therapy.

As soon as you begin to experience symptoms of extensor tendonitis, start applying an ice pack to the affected area for ten minutes every hour.  Continue this practice for 48 hours.  This will help to minimize inflammation.  After 48 hours, you may find it soothing to use a heating pad.

Note: for Diabetics, or for those with circulatory problems, please seek advice from a medical professional before commencing any hot/cold therapy.

Wear shoes that fit comfortably and are not tied too tight.  Tying your laces very tightly puts pressure on the extensor tendons, so loosen up and give those tendons a little room to breathe.  You might also consider trying a different lacing pattern with your shoelaces that allows a little more extension across the top of the foot.

If you suspect that you may have extensor tendonitis, you should see your doctor right away.  The doctor may want to rule out other types of injuries, such as stress fractures.  Your doctor may recommend that you take anti-inflammatory medication or receive a steroid injection.

Wearing the right shoes can help to prevent your body from injury.  Runners should replace their shoes every 400-500 miles, or every six months.  Even if your shoes continue to feel ok after this length of time, they are no longer able to support your feet properly.

Many runners also have an irregular gait.  Visit Foot Solutions in your area, where we can perform gait analysis.  You may under- or over-pronate, which simply means that you place more of your weight on the inside or outside of your foot.  This imbalance in body mechanics can increase the risk of injury.  However, it can be corrected by wearing appropriate shoes with orthotic inserts or custom arch supports.

Extensor tendonitis can hamper your training programme and cause a lot of pain.  Don’t let it interfere with your plans.  Visit Foot Solutions.  We’ll help you find the best shoes and custom arch supports so that you can continue to run comfortably and without injury.  Come in to Foot Solutions today to learn more about how we can help you avoid injuries like extensor tendonitis.