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What is Wrist Tendonitis?

man splinting his wristIs persistent wrist pain stopping you from enjoying your favorite sports and hobbies? Are you wearing over-the-counter wrist braces to keep from missing work? If so, you, like many others who perform repetitive tasks may have a condition called tenosynovitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the tendons surrounding the wrist joint.

In this blog, the orthopedic surgeons at Mirza Orthopedics will provide an overview of wrist tendonitis.

What Is Wrist Tendonitis?

Tendons are made up of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Wrist tendons serve to join the muscles of the forearm to hand and finger bones. Tendons smoothly move through protective casings (or sheaths) as they slide over the wrist joint. These sheaths allow the tendons to smoothly glide when bending the wrist. When the synovial fluid, which is the fluid within the sheaths, becomes inflamed, tenosynovitis is the result.

Wrist tendonitis, or tenosynovitis, occurs when repetitive use of the tendons leads to tissue damage, swelling and pain. Usually tendonitis only affects one tendon, but there are cases where it may affect two or more tendons. The place most likely to experience tendonitis is where the tendons cross over one another or lie over a bony protrusion.

Another form of wrist tendonitis is called de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Often present in new mothers, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is caused by inflammation at the base of the thumb. It is diagnosed by using “Finkelstein’s Test,” which is a specific test where the patient’s wrist is pulled away from the thumb after making a fist. Pain caused by this maneuver is a positive indicator of this form of tendonitis.

What Causes Wrist Tendonitis?

Tenosynovitis mainly occurs from prolonged or repetitive use that places excessive strain on the tendons of the wrist. These activities include:

  • Sports – gymnastics, golf, tennis or other racquet sports.
  • Manual labor – painting, carpentry, wood chopping, hammering, bricklaying, repetitive use of screwdrivers or vibrating machinery.
  • Hobbies – knitting, sewing or gardening.
  • Office work – excessive computer, keyboard and mouse use.

Other causes can be attributed to a variety of activities that involve repetitive, forceful hand gripping. Many people develop wrist tendonitis when there is a sudden change in the duration of repetitive activities or there is an increase of force exerted on the tendons.

Less likely causes include falling onto an outstretched hand, injuring the wrist due to direct impact, or an injury caused by heavy lifting. If you have a medical history that includes injuries to the upper back, neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist, you have a greater risk of developing the condition.

What Are the Signs of Wrist Tendonitis?

Not surprisingly, the most prevalent complaint of those suffering from wrist tendonitis is pain in the wrist. However, other bothersome symptoms include:

  • Swelling surrounding the wrist
  • Redness and warmth of tendons
  • Grinding sensations (crepitus) during movement of tendons

What Are the Treatment Options for Wrist Tendonitis?

Many treatment methods are available to help reduce the symptoms of wrist tendonitis.

  • Immobilization is one of the first steps that involve putting the wrist in a cast or splint. The cast (or splint) allows the tendons in the wrist to rest, which leads to reduce inflammation.
  • Intermittent use of ice is effective in reducing inflammation. Icing also promotes blood flow to the tendons, which promotes healing.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are quite effective in reducing the pain associated with tendonitis in addition to minimizing swelling and inflammation in soft tissues.
  • Cortisone injections are a stronger form of anti-inflammatory medication. The shot is delivered directly into the affected tendon. Although cortisone shots are highly and immediately effective in reducing pain, too many injections over time can cause tendon weakness.

If all other treatment options are exhausted, surgery may be the answer to cure tendonitis. The surgeon will release the painful pressure on the affected tendon sheaths and will remove inflamed tissue to allow more space for the tendons to move freely.

Where Can I Find Treatment for Wrist Tendonitis?

Mirza Orthopedics specializes in treating all kinds of wrist, elbow, hand and shoulder conditions. We’re the leading orthopedic practice in Long Island and are dedicated to delivering expert, personalized care using the most up to date medical techniques.

We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis and strive to use minimally invasive treatment options, such as arthroscopy, to treat your condition.

Whether you’ve recently noticed symptoms of tendonitis or you’ve tried many treatment options without success, Mirza Orthopedics will put you on the path to recovery. Call our office at (631) 361-5302 to make an appointment with one of our highly trained specialists today.

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