Origin: Lateral epicondyle (common extensor tendon)
Insertion: 2nd through 5th phalanges
Artery: Interosseous recurrent artery and posterior interosseous artery
Nerve: Posterior interosseous nerve (C7, C8)
Action: Extension of hand andfingers
Antagonist: Flexor digitorum superficialis muscle, Flexor digitorum profundus muscle
The Extensor digitorum arises from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, by the common tendon; from the intermuscular septa between it and the adjacent muscles, and from the antibrachial fascia. It divides below into four tendons, which pass, together with that of the Extensor indicis proprius, through a separate compartment of the dorsal carpal ligament, within a mucous sheath. The tendons then diverge on the back of the hand, and are inserted into the second and third phalanges of the fingers in the following manner. Opposite the metacarpophalangeal articulation each tendon is bound by fasciculi to the collateral ligaments and serves as the dorsal ligament of this joint; after having crossed the joint, it spreads out into a broad aponeurosis, which covers the dorsal surface of the first phalanx and is reinforced, in this situation, by the tendons of the Interossei and Lumbricalis. Opposite the first interphalangeal joint this aponeurosis divides into three slips; an intermediate and two collateral: the former is inserted into the base of the second phalanx; and the two collateral, which are continued onward along the sides of the second phalanx, unite by their contiguous margins, and are inserted into the dorsal surface of the last phalanx. As the tendons cross the interphalangeal joints, they furnish them with dorsal ligaments. The tendon to the index finger is accompanied by the Extensor indicis proprius, which lies on its ulnar side. On the back of the hand, the tendons to the middle, ring, and little fingers are connected by two obliquely placed bands, one from the third tendon passing downward and lateralward to the second tendon, and the other passing from the same tendon downward and medialward to the fourth. Occasionally the first tendon is connected to the second by a thin transverse band.
Variations.—An increase or decrease in the number of tendons is common; an additional slip to the thumb is sometimes present.