Pain and or numbness in the top of the foot extending up into the ankle and bottom of the lower leg, foot cramps, and difficulty bending the foot up can indicate extensor digitorum longus dysfunction.

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the Extensor Digitorum Longus?

  • Pain in the top of the feet by the toes
  • Pain will occasionally extend up toward the ankle
  • Difficulty raising the foot (foot drop)
  • Numbness in the top of the foot
  • Foot cramps
  • Contributes to the development of hammer toe and claw toe

Where is the Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle?

The extensor digitorum longus attaches to the top of the large bone (tibia) of the lower leg and to 3/4 of the length of the small bone (fibula) of the lower leg to attach via 4 tendons to bones (phalanges) in the four small toes.

What movements do the Extensor Digitorum Longus control?

  • Bends the four small toes up
  • Bends the foot up toward the front of the body
  • Assists in turning the foot outward
  • Assists in maintaining balance

Activities that cause Extensor Digitorum Longus muscle pain and symptoms:

  • Stubbing the toes
  • Kicking a ball
  • Pedaling a bike
  • Climbing stairs
  • Wearing high heels
  • Long drives and pushing down on the accelerator
  • Walking in sand

Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

You use the extensor digitorum longus muscle when you bend the four small toes upwards. Also assists in bending the foot at the ankle up toward the body.

Interesting facts about the Extensor Digitorum Longus muscle:

If allowed to remain chronically tight, the extensor digitorum longus muscle can lead to hammer toe and claw toes. Permanent deformity of the toes can result if the muscles are not treated.

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

  • L4 or L5 Radiculopathy
  • Hammer toe
  • Claw toe
  • Gout

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

Satellite trigger points associated with the extensor digitorum longus muscle:

  • Extensor Hallucis Longus
  • Peroneus Longus
  • Peroneus Brevis
  • Peroneus Tertius
  • Tibialis Anterior

Also Read: Extensor Hallucis Longus: Big Toe Pain


For detailed anatomy information:  Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Action

Help with Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For Extensor Digitorum Longus 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 the extensor digitorum longus muscle, rub Biofreeze down the front and outside of the leg including the ankle, foot and toes.

Hot Cold Pack For Lower Leg Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a versatile pack that can be used to treat the lower leg, foot / ankle, as well as other areas of the body. This pack works well for the extensor digitorum longus as it will cover the length of the calf and can then be used to wrap the foot for full treatment. The pack is filled with pliable gel and has a soft frost free cover that will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injures or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

Warm Therapy Gel for Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that is highly recommended. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain. Applying Sombra to the muscles on the outside and front of the lower leg, down around the ankle, over the top of the foot and the toes can help relieve pain, tightness and cramping caused by the extensor digitorum longus muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.

Graduated Compression Socks for Support and Recovery

Eurosocks Over The Calf Compression Socks have become a go-to for both amateur and professional athletes for lower leg, ankle and foot injury recovery. Graduated compression helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness as well as discouraging inflammation. The socks wickable fabric keeps skin dry and DryStat technology inhibits the growth of odor causing microbes. The over the calf style works very well for extensor digitorum longus muscle recovery as the sock will cover the entire muscle. If you suspect or have been treated for blood clots, consult with a doctor before using compression on the lower legs.

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 FlexFixx 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.

Yoga Toes to Stretch and Relax Lower Leg and Foot Muscles

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 to further massage and relax the muscles of your feet.

For Men’s shoe size 10 and over or women shoe size 12 and over consider Yoga Toes For Men

Self Treatment For Extensor Digitorum Longus Lower Leg and Foot Pain

Do you know that “knots” and other dysfunction in the extensor digitorum longus can contribute to pain in the lower leg going into the foot?

If you have low leg, ankle, and foot pain, I recommend that you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. 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. If you suffer from unresolved lower leg, shin splints, and foot pain I highly recommend this book. 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. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and self-treating muscle pain.

Donna Martin

Massage Therapist Owner: Twelve years of experience working with clients with chronic pain, post injury pain, and post surgery pain. Muscle dysfunction is often overlooked but can hold the key to many pain conditions.

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