01st April 2023

Foot Tendonitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Foot Tendonitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Tendonitis can happen in many places in your body, any place that has tendons can experience the inflammation and subsequent pain of having that tendon inflamed.

When tendon inflammation happens on the top of your foot it is also called Extensor Tendonitis.

In this article, we will cover some of the basics of tendonitis happening on the top of your foot, including symptoms, causes, and common treatments.

What is foot Tendonitis?

A tendon is a stringy connective tissue in the body that connects muscle to bone to make certain movements when the tendon changes shape.

At the top of the foot, these tendons are called extensor tendons, and they connect the bones of your toes to the muscles on the front of your lower leg.

When these tendons are used, this allows you to flex your feet.

However, these tendons are in a relatively unprotected location at the top of feet, and overuse or ill-fitting footwear can cause inflammation in the tendons.

When these tendons become irritated or inflamed, this normally leads to pain and sometimes swelling of the area.

What are the symptoms of Tendonitis in your foot?

The main symptoms of tendonitis in your foot are:

  • Pain in the area of the tendons
  • Redness, heat, and/or swelling in the tendon area
  • Pain worsens when walking or using the foot
  • A crunching feeling or sound over the tendon area (crepitus)
  • Stiffness of the surrounding area

While tendonitis can occur in both feet at the same time, it more commonly occurs or starts in just one foot first.

What causes foot Tendonitis? 

Most of the time, people with tendonitis in their feet have a general idea of what started the pain.

The most common causes of foot tendonitis include:

  • Overuse of the foot (training for a marathon)
  • Running uphill
  • Shoes that don’t fit properly or rub the top of the foot
  • Improper stretching of the feet
  • Having flat feet or foot deformities
  • Foot arthritis
  • Tight tendons in your feet
  • Gout
  • Direct injury to the top of the foot

How is foot Tendonitis normally treated?

The most common treatment for uncomplicated extensor tendonitis is resting and icing the affected foot for an amount of time.

The R.I.C.E. method may be recommended as first-line treatment for at-home tendonitis care:

R - Rest

I - Icing

C - Compression

E - Elevation


If the resting method does not make the pain go away or gets worse after about a week, it is time to see a doctor to plan a course of action.

A doctor may give you anti-inflammatory medications, a boot for your foot, or recommend switching to more suitable therapeutic shoes.

Sometimes, physical therapy, certain foot stretches, or steroid injections from your doctor may be recommended.

When to talk to a doctor

If the pain in your foot lasts more than a few days, or the pain gets worse instead of getting better it is time to involve a doctor to get some additional help.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.