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What is Wrist Tendinitis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Wrist tendinitis, also known as tenosynovitis, is an inflammation of the tendons in the wrist. People with wrist tendinitis experience pain in their wrists along with a limited range of motion, and over time, the wrists can become permanently damaged if the inflammation is allowed to persist. This condition is quite common, and there are a number of treatment options which can be used to address it, especially in the early stages.

Some of the causes of wrist tendinitis include trauma to the wrists, repetitive motion, overuse, and poor use of the wrists. For example, someone who holds the hands in a bad position at the keyboard, even when she or he does not type very much, can develop wrist tendinitis as a result of the awkward positioning. The early signs of wrist tendinitis include pain and stiffness, with soreness appearing above the wrist, and some people also experience swelling. The wrist may also feel hot and tender to the touch.

Treatment involves rest and the administration of anti-inflammatory medications to bring down the swelling and mitigate the inflammatory reaction occurring in the wrists. These medications can include steroids injected directly into the wrist to ease the swelling directly, along with oral medications. The medications should allow the tendons of the wrist to move more smoothly, allowing the patient a pain-free range of motion in the wrist. Gentle exercise may be recommended to keep the wrists healthy as they heal, and to strengthen the tendons.

Persistent wrist tendinitis can require surgical treatment. This is to be avoided, as surgery carries risks and the patient will need to complete wrist rehabilitation during the healing process. People can reduce the risk of developing wrist tendinitis by protecting their wrists from injury with the appropriate protective gear, including equipment which promotes proper wrist position so that people can perform operations such as typing safely.

Wrist tendinitis is sometimes confused with carpal tunnel syndrome. In carpal tunnel syndrome, nerves actually become pinched, leading to a tingly or numb sensation in the hand. People can also experience a burning feeling. With wrist tendinitis, there is pain, but no loss of sensation. Patients who experience wrist pain should see a doctor for an examination, which may include medical imaging studies to learn more about the origins of wrist pain. The doctor can make treatment recommendations, including prevention recommendations such as bracing to reduce the risk of reinjury.

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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 ddljohn — On Aug 01, 2013

@burcinc-- Are you wearing a wrist tendinitis brace? You need to wear a brace when you're doing straining movements to protect your wrist.

By fify — On Aug 01, 2013

@burcinc-- I don't think you will need surgery.

I did have wrist tendinitis, mine was due to typing and using the mouse a lot. Repetitive movements are tough on the tendons and that's probably why you have tendinitis too.

Have you seen a physical therapist?

I highly recommend that you do. This is how my tendinitis was treated. My physical therapist not only made me do exercises that stretched and strengthened my wrist, but he also taught me how to keep my hand in a way that would prevent straining my wrist while working.

If you see a physical therapist and show how you usually use your hand while playing the guitar, he or she might be able to identify what you're doing wrong.

Ice and and anti-inflammatory medications are good, but unless you resolve the underlying problem, the wrist pain and tendinitis will return.

By burcinc — On Jul 31, 2013

I think I have chronic wrist tendinitis. I've developed it for the third time in the past year. Every time, I follow my doctor's directions, I rest, apply ice and take medications. The pain goes away only to return a few months later.

I know what the cause is. I'm a musician, I play the guitar in a band. So it's not possible for me to give up what I'm doing. I honestly don't know what to do about it. I'm scared that I will eventually need a wrist tendinitis surgery.

Is anyone else in the same situation? What have you been doing for treatment?

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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