You have extensor tendons in your hands and feet, and they help you move your fingers and toes. The tendons in your feet attach at the muscles at the front of your leg and run across the top of your feet to your toes, leaving them with very little protection from injury.
We’ll talk about how Dr. Silverman can help treat acute trauma to the extensor tendons in another blog, but today, we want to talk about a more common condition that occurs when inflammation affects the tendons. This is known as extensor tendonitis, and today we take a closer look at the causes, symptoms and treatments for the condition.
Causes and Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis
When the condition develops in the tendons in your feet, it is usually caused by a couple common issues. The most common cause is from wearing shoes that are too tight, or if you’re lacing your shoes to strongly across the top. This pressure can cause the tendons to rub together and become inflamed. Another common cause is from repetitive motions and overuse, which is often seen in young athletes, or individuals who do a lot of uphill running.
Symptoms of the condition include:
Pain on the top of your foot
Pain that builds gradually as activity increases
Muscle and toe weakness
Numbness or tingling in the area
Decreased ability to push off when running or jumping
Diagnosis and Treatment of Extensor Tendinitis
If you are experiencing some or all of the above symptoms, head in to a foot specialist’s office. You might not think that it’s worth the trip to a doctor, and while it generally is an easier condition to treat, failing to treat it correctly can make the condition worse, which is why you’ll want to have a treatment plan designed by an expert. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform some physical manipulation tests to assess the tendons, and imaging tests may be taken. X-rays can help to rule out a more serious problem like a fracture, while an MRI or ultrasound can provide the doctor with a detailed picture of the tendons to ensure you’re not dealing with a tendon or muscle tear.
The majority of cases of extensor tendonitis can be treated with non-operative methods, which often include a combination of rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and strengthening exercises and targeted physical therapy. Keeping your calf muscles loose and stretched can also help to take strain off of your extensor tendons.
If conservative care methods don’t address the issue, a more hands-on approach may be necessary. This may involve steroid injections or surgery to restore strength and range of motion to the tendons. Healing after surgery can take weeks, but when performed by a skilled surgeon, it often produces great results. Physical therapy and other conservative treatment options will be used after surgery to help the tendons heal and restore maximum range of motion.
For more information about extensor tendon pain, or to set up an appointment with a specialist, reach out to Silverman Ankle & Foot today.