Extensor Tendinitis Defined
Anytime you flex your fingers, wiggle your thumbs, or move your wrist, you’re using the extensor tendons in your hands. When you move your toes or ankles, you’re using the extensor tendons in your feet. Whether in the hands or the feet, extensor tendons are located just under the skin, so they are very vulnerable to damage. Excessive use of the fingers and wrists, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or standing for long periods of time can damage your extensor tendons.
Symptoms of extensor tendinitis can be swelling, discomfort, stiffness, or a gritty feeling when you use the extensor tendon.
Recovery Time for Extensor Tendinitis
Since each individual is unique, recovery time for extensor tendinitis will vary depending on the individual and the severity of the tendinitis . The primary treatment is resting the tendon and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers, or NSAIDs. Extensor tendinitis recovery time can be as little as a few days or as long as several weeks or months, depending on the severity of the damage and the individual’s rate of healing.
Physical therapy may be recommended, which can help speed recovery, and stretches are often used to strengthen and heal the tendon. Ultrasounds can help speed the healing process as can steroid injections, although steroids are usually used in more serious cases. Injections will usually limit the use of the foot.
Badly damaged extensor tendons that don’t respond well to other treatments may require surgery. Although surgery is usually well tolerated, it can extend the extensor tendinitis recovery time from several weeks up to several months. Physical therapy will probably be required after surgery.
The key to minimizing the extensor tendinitis recovery time is to avoid placing stress on the damaged tendon. Stretching and strengthening activities may be resumed within a week or thereabouts, but will depend on your unique situation. It may seem tedious and frustrating, but it’s vital to let your body heal at its own pace rather than trying to force the issue and further damage the tendon.
During the recovery period, it’s essential that you listen to your body. If you experience pain while in the recovery period, stop the activity immediately or you may incur additional injury.
Usually, extensor tendinitis is a temporary condition and will abate with proper rest and treatment. However, ignoring the pain that may be experienced both during the injury and in the healing process can permanently damage the tendon. In order to ensure adequate healing, make sure you give your tendon plenty of time to heal, even if it takes several months. In the end, it’s better to spend a little more time healing than to cause irreparable damage to the extensor tendon.