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What is Hand Tendinitis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hand tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the hand. The tendons are used to control the movements of the fingers and wrist, using signals from muscles located in the arm. People with hand tendinitis can experience aching and burning sensations in the hand, as well as difficulty moving the hands. The treatment involves rest to allow the tendons to recover and lifestyle adjustments to prevent recurrence of the inflammation.

The most common cause of hand tendinitis is overuse. Overuse injuries are common in people working in the technology industry, as they engage in repetitive motions like typing regularly at work. Construction workers and other people with jobs involving heavy repetitive work can also develop tendinitis. People with a history of hand fractures and injuries are also at risk of developing inflammation.

In hand tendinitis, the tendons become inflamed and they swell inside the synovial sheath, the sheath that normally protects the tendons. The tendons can no longer move smoothly within the sheath as a result, causing the patient to feel like the hands are stiff and tender. Tendinitis can cause tightness, trouble gripping, aching, and burning, and tends to be worse early in the morning and late at night.

A doctor can conduct an examination to look for signs of tendinitis and rule out bruising and other potential causes of hand pain. The treatment relies on resting the hands to prevent further injury and allow the inflammation to reduce. Icing the hands may be recommended, as the cooling can reduce the swelling, and patients may be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs if their hands are especially tender and swollen. Once the hands are fully recovered, the patient can return to normal activity levels.

Because overuse is usually the cause, patients may be advised to adjust their work or recreation habits to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries. If patients do not change their habits, there is a risk the tendinitis could return and grow worse. Potentially, tendons could snap, requiring surgical repair. Using ergonomic tools and working positions can help, as can switching to voice control systems and other measures designed to limit the use of the hands. Many workplaces recognize the risk of repetitive stress injuries and may assist employees with making adjustments to limit such injuries, including supplying employees with assistive devices to reduce the amount of work people need to do with their hands.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1001186 — On Mar 21, 2019

I prefer heat to help with tendonitis in my hands.

By Perdido — On Jan 19, 2013

I got severe hand and wrist pain after starting a job as a graphic designer. This involved a surprising amount of typing, and that combined with clicking the mouse all day long really did a number on my inexperienced hands.

I was fresh out of college, and I wasn't accustomed to using my fingers and wrists all day like this. On days when I worked overtime, the soreness was nearly unbearable.

I got a wrist support bar that was very soft and filled with sand. I placed it in front of the keyboard, and I forced myself to rest my wrists on it while typing.

I also made myself switch hands from time to time when using the mouse. This cut down on the soreness caused by clicking. I had to think more about what I was doing while using my left hand, because it seemed so unnatural, but eventually, I got adjusted and could use both equally well.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 18, 2013

I sew and make jewelry for hours at a time, and I've found hand exercises to be beneficial. I just have to remember to stop every half hour or so and do a few of them.

Basically, all the exercises involve stretching my fingers out as far as they will go and then curling them inward to make a fist. In the same way that you might stop working at your computer and stand up to take a good, long stretch every now and then, I have to make my fingers take a stretch break.

It can be hard to do when I'm really into a project. However, on days where I go without frequent breaks, my hands are much more sore.

By Oceana — On Jan 17, 2013

@JackWhack – My doctor told me that ice is best if you apply it soon after you start having hand and wrist pain. It cuts down on the swelling.

However, I have found that heat also feels good, especially for people like me who have hand pain on a near daily basis. I say that if it feels good, apply it, so whatever works for you is what you should use.

By JackWhack — On Jan 17, 2013

I have tendinitis in my hand, and I was wondering if heat is a good form of treatment? I have a heating pad that does wonders for my sore neck and shoulders. Would it work on my sore hands, too, or should I use ice instead?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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