A healthy tendon moves unhindered through a protective sheath that allows it to travel around joints and across other tendons. Tendinitis thickens the tendon sheath, restricting the movement of the tendon. The area generally becomes inflamed, making joint movement painful and often difficult. While wrist tendinitis may occur anywhere along a tendon, it is most commonly seen at a point of contact with bone or with another tendon. One frequent example of wrist tendinitis, especially in new mothers, is called DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendon found at the base of the thumb.
Treatment options for wrist tendinitis vary depending on the severity of the case. As a first step, we often use a splint which allows the tendon to rest by limiting its movement. In less serious cases, this decreases swelling and allows the pain to subside. intermittent icing of the area is also recommended.
If this approach is ineffective another option is to use non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication including over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or prescriptions provided by your doctor. Again, the effect is a reduction of pain and swelling.
For severe cases, a cortisone injection applied directly to the site of inflammation may ease the symptoms. Cortisone injections are considered safe but may weaken the tendons of the area over time if injections are done repeatedly. Our final option is surgery, which is highly effective and can frequently be done in the office under local anesthesia with sedation. More space is created for the tendon to move by widening the tunnel and removing inflammatory tissue.