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Extensor Tendonitis Symptoms and Treatment

Extensor tendonitis, a common problem among runners, is inflammation of the extensor tendons, which run across the top of the foot, extend down from the muscle in the front of the shin, and split off into each digit. These tendons work to straighten each toe, pull each toe up, and to help move the entire foot.


Extensor tendonitis most commonly occurs due to the foot rubbing against a shoe.  It tends to affect people who spend long periods on their feet, people walking or running on uneven surfaces or up and down hills and people who lace their shoes too tightly.

Other causes include:

  • A tight Achilles
  • Weak or tight calf muscles
  • An injury to the foot or ankle


 You might be experiencing extensor tendonitis if you have any of theses signs and symptoms:

  •  Pain in the top of the foot
  • The pain increases while walking, running, or standing.
  • Pain in the top of the foot, heel or arch, even at rest
  • Swelling or bruising on the top of the foot
  • A tender spot over the hard bones in the midfoot
  • Limping or changes in the way that you walk


If you believe that you are suffering from extensor tendonitis, a podiatrist can perform a physical exam in order to properly diagnosis the problem. In most cases, X-rays are performed on the first visit as well to look for any change in joint alignment or possible fractures that can mimic the pain of extensor tendonitis.


Treatment aims to reduce irritation, inflammation and pain in top of foot.

  • Shoe Laces: One of the simplest ways to treat and prevent extensor tendonitis is to change how you lace your shoes.  For tips on how to tie your shoes properly, check out one of our previous articles here.
  • Rest: It is important to rest until the pain has gone. If you continuine to train when the foot is painful will only make the injury worse and delay the healing.
  • Ice: Cold therapy can be applied for 10 minutes every hour initially reducing frequency as required over the next 48 hours. Ice can be applied in a wet tea towel or with a re-useable ice pack. This will help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • New shoes: Running shoes are usually good for 400 miles of running and then would benefit from being replaced. The older your shoes get, the less protection they offer.
  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can be used to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Exercise: Strengthening exercises for the extensor muscles help to improve strength and endurance.
  • Orthotics: If you are seeking the best comfort and protection for your feet, a podiatrist can craft a custom-made orthotic insert for your shoe.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100



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