Anatomy & Background
A tendon is part of the muscle that connects your muscle to bone. It is a strong, fibrous tissue that is responsible for transferring the forces generated by the muscle to the bone. It is this transfer of force that causes our body’s movement. When a tendon becomes irritated or inflamed it becomes painful, especially with movement.
Inflammation of the tendon is called tendinitis. Tendinitis in the wrist occurs when the tendons in the forearm become inflamed. The tendons for your fingers must pass through one area, sometimes becoming inflamed. Because there are a couple of tendons in close proximity to one another, wrist tendinitis will need a proper evaluation from your pain management specialist before a plan of care can be developed.
Tendinitis is most often caused by overuse and repetitive strain injury. Other high-risk activities that can lead to the development of wrist tendinitis include:
- Participating in athletic activities that can strain the wrist and hand, like tennis and gymnastics.
- Repetitive strain injuries at work.
- Sudden trauma or an accident such as a fall where an individual puts their hands down to catch themselves, putting pressure on their wrists.
- Patients with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis may be susceptible to tendinitis.
- Sustained gripping and grasping activities.
Signs and Symptoms of Wrist Tendinitis
- Wrist pain or tenderness directly over the tendon that can radiate to the hand or forearm
- Pain or burning sensation during activities
- Difficulty dressing and performing activities of daily living
- Weakness may occur as the inflammation gets worse
- A feeling of tightness or loss of motion due to discomfort
- Swelling of the tendon
- Loss of motion at the wrist
Treating Wrist Tendinitis
If you suspect you have tendinitis, your initial treatment should consist of avoiding the positions and activities that produce any pain. A course of conservative treatment is usually recommended. This includes rest and immobilization, possible splinting, ice, physical therapy and non-steroidal medications to reduce inflammation. If symptoms persist, treatment by your physician may be necessary. This may include steroidal medication or injections, in conjunction with therapy. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be needed to correct any mechanical causes of the tendon irritation.
Procedures that your pain management specialist may recommend and perform include:
- REST and ICE
- The use of NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
- Steroidal injections to reduce inflammation
- Pain medication to reduce the discomfort
- Surgery to correct underlying pathology or the cause of the tendinitis
- Splinting to rest or immobilize the wrist and affected tendons.
It is important that once the pain and inflammation is reduced, and motion and strength are restored, the patient gradually returns to his or her daily functions. Instruction in daily activities or sports will be provided by your pain management specialist for reducing the chance of a re-occurrence of tendinitis.
It is easier to prevent tendinitis than to treat it. Below are some tips to reduce the risk of tendinitis.
- Warm up lightly before the activity to improve circulation and lubricate the muscle and tendon. Warm ups should be performed to the area that will be used.
- Stretch the tendons and muscles you will be using after your warm up, prior to the activity, and after the activity. Do not bounce or over-reach, when stretching. Instead, hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds.
- Strengthen the muscles and tendons that you need to use for your activity.
- Do not work through the pain. Listen to your body. Avoid the “no pain, no gain” philosophy.