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Understanding Wrist Tendonitis Pain

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT May 06, 2020 0 Comments

Wrist Pain

Also known as tenosynovitis, wrist tendonitis pain is the result of the tendons in the forearm that control wrist and hand movement becoming inflamed. These tendons can generally be divided into two categories: the flexors, which bend the wrist, and extensors, which extend the wrist.

The wrist tendons come together in groups within protective sheaths. These sheaths promote smooth coordinated low-friction motion to allow unrestricted wrist movement. Wrist tendonitis occurs when one or more of the wrist tendons become swollen and aggravated. 

What Causes Wrist Tendonitis?

Common sites of irritation of the wrist tendons include areas where they come together, or even cross. Additionally, bony prominences or areas subject to repetitive motions are also at higher risk for developing symptoms of tendonitis.

Common causes of wrist tendonitis include:

  • Repetitive hand and wrist use from activities like sports, work, and household chores
  • High-impact activities such as from a fall, car accident, or other blunt force
  • Changes in connective tissue health secondary to age, poor health, or previous injury
  • Genetic disorders affecting tissue quality, such as the hypermobility that comes with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
  • Metabolic or autoimmune diseases such as gout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and obesity
  • Medications such as NSAIDs and cortisone that affect tissue quality

Wrist Tendonitis Symptoms

Wrist tendonitis symptoms can vary slightly depending on which tendon or areas are affected. General symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Swelling around the wrist joint and possibly into the hand or forearm
  • Heat or warmth near affected tendons
  • Minor to severe pain that is exacerbated with wrist movement
  • Trouble using the wrist with normal activities of daily living
  • A sensation of grinding or popping (crepitus) in the wrist with use

Diagnosis

Your physician or physical therapist will do a full assessment of your wrist to determine if you have wrist tendonitis. This will include measuring range of motion, palpation of tender areas, assessing strength, and other related functions. Ultimately, an in-depth assessment will help differentiate and pinpoint the problem areas. For example, a common area that is affected is within the thumb, also known as DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis.

Typically, diagnosis is determined by the associated symptoms and history of injury. Imaging, such as an X-ray, can be useful to rule out other potential complications with wrist pain such as fractures or arthritis. To assess the severity of wrist tendonitis, ultrasound or an MRI scan can help determine levels of inflammation and swelling if necessary.

Recovery Time

Recovery time ultimately depends on the severity of your symptoms. In general, you can expect to recover from a tendon injury in 6 weeks with proper rest time followed by a restorative program. The best gauge for recovering from a wrist injury is to pay attention to your symptoms.  Acute milder wrist tendonitis may heal in as little as 4 weeks, whereas more severe chronic cases may take up to 12 weeks or more.

Managing Wrist Tendonitis

Wrist pain can make it hard to manage a lot of your essential everyday activities, such as working at the computer, cooking, driving, hobbies, and everything else in between. With an understanding and treatment strategy, you can get back normal life before you know it, pain-free.

The best course of action for treatment will change with each stage of healing. Treatment options will include initial rest, splints, pain relief, wrist stretching and strengthening. As you recover, injury prevention will then become crucial for minimizing the risk of future problems.

WRIST TENDONITIS PRODUCTS

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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