A healthy tendon moves unhindered through a protective sheath that allows it to travel around joints and across other tendons. Someone with tendinitis experiences thickening of the tendon sheath, which restricts the tendon’s movement. The area generally becomes inflamed, making joint movement painful and more 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. This inflammation of the tendon is found at the base of the thumb.
There are some underlying factors that may make you prone to tendinitis, including age, poor wrist posture, poorly aligned joints, injury, or diabetes. Tendinitis can also stem from repetitive daily activities. For example, using a mouse or keyboard, texting, playing video games, or consistently writing with a pen or pencil could be causing your wrist to feel pain, become swollen, or lose flexibility.
Treatment for Wrist Tendinitis
Treatment options for wrist tendinitis vary depending on the severity of the case. Start by avoiding any activities that could be causing stress to your wrist. If your wrist begins to hurt or becomes swollen, apply ice to reduce inflammation. However, if the problems persist, you should see a doctor to receive proper treatment.
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. While you’re home, intermittent icing is also recommended.
If this approach is ineffective in reducing pain and swelling, another option is to use non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication. This includes over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or prescriptions provided by your doctor. This should at least allow for temporary relief.
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. The surgery requires a small incision in the wrist to locate the damaged tendon to release the sheath surrounding it. Ultimately, more space is created for the tendon to move by widening the tunnel and removing inflammatory tissue. Your wrist will feel as good as new in just a few weeks.