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Extensor Digitorum Brevis Muscle: Pain In The Top Of The Foot

Pain pattern of the extensor digitorum brevis muscle

The extensor digitorum brevis contributes to pain on the top of the foot in the area of the second, third and fourth toes. The muscle can also contribute to hammer toe and claw toes.

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the Extensor Digitorum Brevis muscle?

  • Pain in the top of the feet by the toes
  • Muscle cramps in the top of the foot and toes
  • Difficulty raising the foot
  • Difficulty raising the four small toes
  • Numbness in the top of the foot
  • Contributes to the development of hammer toe and claw toe

Where is the Extensor Digitorum Brevis muscle located?

The extensor digitorum brevis is located toward the top of the foot. It connects the heel bone (calcaneus) to the three middle toes (proximal phalanx 2, 3 and 4).

What movements do the Extensor Digitorum Brevis control?

  • It straightens (extends) and raises the three middle toes.

Activities that cause extensor digitorum brevis muscle pain and symptoms:

  • Stubbing the toes
  • Kicking a ball
  • Pedaling a bike
  • Climbing stairs
  • Shoes that are too tight or are laced too tightly across the top of the foot
  • High heeled shoes
  • Going barefoot for long periods will stress the muscle if your feet are not accustomed to going without shoes

Interesting facts about the Extensor Digitorum Brevis muscles:

If allowed to remain chronically tight, the extensor digitorum brevis can contribute to hammer toe and claw toes.


You use the extensor digitorum brevis muscle when you straighten and raise your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th toes.

Clinical diagnoses to which the extensor digitorum brevis muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Tendinitis
  • Hammer toes or claw toes
  • Turf Toe
  • Gout
  • Charcot’s Joint

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the extensor digitorum brevis muscle:

Satellite Trigger Points: Extensor hallucis brevis, Extensor digitorum longus, Peroneus longus, Peroneus brevis, Peroneus tertius, Tibialis anterior

Affected Organ System: Digestive System

For Anatomy Information See: Extensor Digitorum Brevis Muscle Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

Help with Extensor Digitorum Brevis Muscle Injury and Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For Extensor Digitorum Brevis Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. To treat pain attributed to the extensor digitorum brevis, rub Biofreeze around the ankle and the top of the foot to the toes.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Warm Therapy Gel for Aching In The Top of the Foot

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain. Applying Sombra around the ankle and over the top of the foot to the toes will reduce the pain and cramps that can be caused by extensor digitorum brevis injury or dysfunct‭ion.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.

Foot Wrap For Hot / Cold Treatment and Compression

The ActiveWrap Foot and Ankle Wrap will provide both cold and hot treatments. The wrap has two gel packs that can be used for either hot or cold treatment. The adjustable Velcro closures can be adjusted for comfortable fit. The wrap without the inserts can be worn for both support and compression in the early injury phase.

Small/Medium Ankle and Foot ActiveWrap

Large/X-Large Ankle and Foot ActiveWrap

ActiveWrap Ankle and Foot Cold Hot Wrap

Yoga Toes Help Relax The Muscles of the Feet

I recommend Yoga Toes Gems for many of my clients who are dealing with foot and/or lower leg pain. The separators not only stretch the muscles of the feet, but also many muscles of the lower leg. Used regularly, Yoga Toes do actually help straighten and align your toes. They can also be helpful for some cases of bunions, hammer toes, and claw toes. I prefer the Yoga Toes Gems because they are more supple, comfortable and easier to use. To increase therapeutic treatment relax while wearing Yoga Toes and then use the massage balls (below) to further massage and relax the muscles of your feet.

Yoga Toes For Men are made for men who wear a size 10 or larger.

Yoga Toes Gems for foot pain

Massage Balls To Relieve Foot Pain

Massage balls can be used to relieve tension in many areas of the body and are exceptionally effective for your feet. I like the Magnificent Rose Massage Ball Set. The set includes a smooth ball and two spiked balls which will give you maximum treatment for various aches and pains in your feet. The balls are sturdy and can deliver very firm pressure. The set comes with instructions and exercises. Rolling your feet takes just a few minutes each day and can deliver excellent results for both foot and lower leg pain.

Massage Balls for foot pain

Self Treatment Help For Extensor Digitorum Brevis Pain

Do you know that small "knots" or other dysfunction in the extensor digitorum brevis can contribute to pain in the top of the foot? This muscle can also contribute to hammer toes and claw toes.

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. can help you treat foot pain by teaching you the techniques to find and eliminate trigger points Author Clair Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you are suffering from pain in the top of the foot, treating the trigger points in the extensor muscles of the foot can help reduce or eliminate your pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.
The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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