Tendinitis, a condition that impacts many, is a pain that is often underestimated until it hits home. In this article, we will explore tendinitis with a specific focus on tendinitis of the wrist. Understanding this condition, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options can empower you to take control of your health and work toward a pain-free future.
What is Tendinitis?
Tendinitis (or tendonitis), in its essence, is the inflammation of a tendon—a thick, cord-like structure that connects muscles to bones. It’s a condition that can manifest in various parts of the body, with the wrist being one of its potential trouble spots. While the wrist is a common location for tendinitis, it can also strike in areas like the elbow, knee, and shoulder.
How Does Someone Get Wrist Tendinitis?
Wrist tendinitis often begins with repetitive motions. These actions put a strain on the tendons, causing them to become inflamed and irritated. Everyday activities are often the culprits, with simple, repetitive actions like typing, gripping, lifting, using mobile devices, or even playing musical instruments potentially contributing to the development of wrist tendinitis.
Diagnosing Wrist Tendinitis: Differentiating from Carpal Tunnel
Wrist tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome may share similar symptoms, but they affect different parts of the wrist. Wrist tendinitis targets the tendons, while carpal tunnel syndrome primarily affects the median nerve. To obtain a definitive diagnosis, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional. Doctors employ various methods to diagnose wrist tendinitis, including physical examinations and imaging tests. These evaluations help differentiate it from other conditions, ensuring an accurate diagnosis.
Symptoms of Wrist Tendinitis
Wrist tendinitis can manifest with a range of symptoms, including:
- Pain: Persistent or intermittent pain in the wrist is a hallmark symptom of wrist tendinitis. The pain may be sharp, dull, or aching and can range from mild to severe.
- Tenderness: The affected area may be tender to the touch. Pressing on the wrist tendons or the area around them may elicit pain or discomfort.
- Swelling: Inflammation of the tendons can lead to localized swelling in the wrist. Swelling may cause the wrist to appear puffy or slightly enlarged.
- Stiffness: Wrist tendinitis can lead to reduced flexibility and range of motion in the wrist joint. You may notice that it’s challenging to bend or move your wrist as freely as usual.
- Weakness: Some individuals with wrist tendinitis may experience weakness in the affected hand and wrist. Weakness can make it difficult to grip objects or perform tasks that require wrist strength.
- Crepitus: Crepitus refers to a cracking or popping sensation that occurs when moving the wrist. This sensation can be unsettling but is a common symptom of wrist tendinitis.
When to Seek Professional Examination
Should you see your doctor for tendinitis? If you’re experiencing persistent wrist pain, stiffness, or difficulty performing daily activities due to wrist discomfort, it’s time to schedule an examination. Timely intervention can prevent the condition from worsening and lead to more effective treatment outcomes.
Treatment Options for Wrist Tendinitis
The good news is that wrist tendinitis is treatable, and there are various approaches to alleviate its symptoms. These treatments can include:
- Bracing and Splinting: One of the initial steps in treating wrist tendinitis is providing support to the affected area. Braces and splints can help stabilize the wrist, reducing strain on the tendons and allowing them to heal. These supports are often prescribed by healthcare professionals and are customized to fit your wrist for optimal effectiveness.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines: Over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be valuable allies in managing wrist tendinitis. Medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation, providing much-needed relief. Consult your doctor first before taking these medications.
- Steroid Injections: In more severe cases of wrist tendinitis, healthcare providers may recommend steroid injections. These injections can be administered as an outpatient procedure, typically involving minimal discomfort. Steroids work to swiftly alleviate inflammation, offering prompt relief from pain and allowing you to regain wrist mobility.
- At-Home Management: Beyond medical interventions, there are steps you can take at home to complement your treatment plan. Your healthcare provider may suggest specific exercises and stretches tailored to your condition. These exercises can improve wrist strength and flexibility, reducing the risk of recurrence. Using ice or heat can be very beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation. Additionally, adopting ergonomic practices and modifying your daily activities to minimize repetitive motions can contribute to your recovery.
- Surgery: Surgery for wrist tendinitis is relatively rare and is usually considered when conservative treatments do not provide sufficient relief or when there is significant tendon damage. The good news is that when surgery is required, it’s often a minimally invasive procedure that only requires local anesthesia. The downtime and discomfort associated with surgery are typically minimal.
Can Wrist Tendinitis Be Fully Healed?
Thankfully, the outlook for individuals with wrist tendinitis is positive. With prompt diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and adherence to recommended exercises and lifestyle modifications, many individuals will experience a full recovery. The key is to address the condition early and follow your healthcare provider’s guidance.
Take Control of Wrist Tendinitis
By understanding its causes, recognizing its symptoms, and exploring available treatments with your doctors, you can move towards a vibrant, pain-free life. If you experience any signs of tendinitis, especially if they persist, talk to your doctor! With the right care, you can look forward to fully healing wrist tendinitis.
Hayley is a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer and State of Florida Licensed Athletic Trainer. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2017 and is working on a master’s degree in Health Administration through St. Augustine University. In addition to working with our physicians she often works in our physical therapy department where she uses her certification in Graston, a soft tissue mobilization technique to help with soft tissue recovery. Full Bio