Also known as tenosynovitis, wrist tendonitis pain can be caused by the tendons of the forearm, which control wrist and hand movement, becoming inflamed. The 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 on either side of the carpus. 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, especially in cases where they have been overused by constantly gripping something hard, such as a mouse or writing implements.
Types of wrist tendonitis
There are several types of wrist tendonitis, each with its causes and symptoms. Some of the most common types of wrist tendonitis include:
De Quervain's tenosynovitis:
This condition affects the tendons that control the movement of the thumb. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon sheath, which is the protective covering around the tendons. De Quervain's tenosynovitis is most common in women and people who use their thumbs repetitively, such as computer users and musicians.
This is a condition that affects the tendons that control the movement of the wrist. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon sheaths where the tendons cross each other. Intersection syndrome is common in people who use their wrists repetitively, such as tennis players and golfers.
Flexor carpi radialis tendinitis:
affects the tendon that flexes the wrist towards the palm. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon. Flexor carpi radialis tendinitis is common in people who use their wrists repetitively, such as computer users and musicians.
Extensor carpi radialis longus tendinitis:
This condition affects the tendon that extends the wrist away from the palm. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon. Extensor carpi radialis longus tendinitis is common in people who use their wrists repetitively, such as tennis players and golfers.
Ulnar tunnel syndrome:
This is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve, which is a nerve that runs through the wrist. It is caused by compression of the nerve, which can be caused by inflammation, overuse, or injury. Ulnar tunnel syndrome is common in people who use their wrists repetitively, such as computer users and musicians.
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 at higher risk for developing symptoms of tendonitis. Situations that may cause a person to experience pain or tenderness in these areas include activities such as repetitive movements and direct pressure on the area.
Common causes of wrist tendonitis include:
- Repetitive hand and wrist use from activities like sports, work, household chores, and hobbies can all eventually lead to wrist tendonitis
- Changes in connective tissue health secondary to age, poor health, or previous injury
- A high-impact activity such as a car crash or fall is an example of one of the most dangerous types of road accidents.
- Medications such as NSAIDs and cortisone that affect tissue quality
Wrist Tendonitis Symptoms
Wrist tendonitis symptoms may vary slightly depending on which tendon or areas are affected. It's hoped that the following information will serve as a starting point for identifying whether you might be suffering from wrist tendonitis:
- Trouble using the wrist with normal activities of daily living
- Minor to severe pain that is exacerbated with wrist movement
- Heat or warmth near affected tendons
- A sensation of grinding or popping (crepitus) in the wrist with use
- Swelling around the wrist joint and possibly into the hand or forearm
Your doctor will assess your hand to determine pain in the tendons close to the wrist. This includes measuring how well your wrist can move, feeling for tender areas, testing your grip strength, etc. By pinpointing specifically where the problem is, treatment is more effective. For example, one of the most common problems that involve tendons near the wrist is called DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis.
Typical diagnosis is done through observation of the symptoms and history of injury. X-rays may aid in diagnosis to rule out other potential complications, such as a broken sword or arthritis. To assess the severity of wrist inflammation, ultrasounds or MRIs can help determine levels of pain and swelling if necessary.
Once the diagnosis of wrist tendonitis is made, the doctor can recommend treatment options. Treatment for wrist tendonitis may include:
- Rest: Avoiding activities that stress the wrist can help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Ice: Applying ice to the wrist for 20 minutes can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Compression: Wearing a wrist brace or compression wrap can help to support the wrist and reduce pain.
- Elevation: Keeping the wrist above the heart can help reduce swelling.
- Medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to relieve pain and inflammation. Prescription pain medication may be necessary for more severe pain.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve the range of motion and strength of the wrist.
- Injections: Cortisone injections can help to reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary for severe cases of wrist tendonitis.
In most cases, wrist tendonitis can be treated successfully with non-surgical treatments. However, surgery may be necessary if the pain is severe or does not respond to treatment.
Here are some tips to help prevent wrist tendonitis:
- Take breaks when using your wrists repetitively.
- Use proper technique when lifting objects.
- Strengthen the muscles in your forearm.
- Wear a wrist brace when participating in activities that stress your wrist.
- Stretch your wrists regularly.
- If you have a job or hobby involving repetitive wrist movements, take breaks often and stretch your wrists.
If you experience pain in your wrist, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. With proper treatment, most people with wrist tendonitis can fully recover.
Recovering from an injury to a tendon will take anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on the severity of your condition. Typically, it takes about six weeks (or more) to reduce or eliminate tendonitis symptoms significantly. To know you're fully healed is when you can perform all the activities that you used to do before without pain and any other impairment.
Managing Wrist Tendonitis
Wrist pain can cripple even the most hard-working people as it makes it nearly impossible to manage many everyday activities, such as typing at a keyboard, stirring in a pot, driving, drawing, and pretty much everything else you might have on your daily to-do list! Suppose you suffer from wrist soreness, which many do due to repetitive movements in everyday life or specific sensitive positions, for example, when holding tools like a pen or phone. In that case, some simple things can be done, So your quality of life may quickly return to normal.
What works as a healing process will vary depending on the patient's condition. Still, some common treatment options will include a herbal heating pad, Cold therapy packs, rest, immobilization of the affected area, and pain relief. Over time, your surgeon will more slowly start to work you back into daily activities by allowing you to use your wrist while stretching it and strengthening it bit by bit. As you recover, prevention elements will become key in minimizing the risk of future symptoms!