Anatomy & Background
A tendon is part of the muscle that connects your muscle to bone. It is a strong, fibrous tissue 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 close to one another, wrist tendinitis will need a proper evaluation from your pain management specialist before we can develop a plan of care.
Tendinitis often occurs due to 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 like a fall where you put your hands down to catch yourself, putting pressure on your 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. We usually recommend a course of conservative treatment. This course 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 treatment regimen may include steroidal medication or injections in conjunction with therapy. In severe cases, You may require surgical intervention 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 essential that once you reduce the pain and inflammation and restore motion and strength, you gradually return to your daily functions. Your pain management specialist will provide instruction in daily activities or sports to reduce 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. You should perform warm-ups to the area that you will use.
- Stretch the tendons and muscles you will be using after your warm-up, before 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.