Wrist Tendonitis

Pamela L. Jones, MD
Board Certified Orthopedic and Hand Surgeon

What is wrist tendonitis?
Wrist tendonitis is a common condition characterized by irritation and inflammation of the tendons around the wrist joint. There are many tendons that surround the joint; tendonitis usually affects one of the tendons, but sometimes may involve two or more.

In addition to causing pain, inflammation, and swelling, wrist tendonitis can impede movement of the wrist joint. This is because as the condition progresses, the smooth tissue sheath that surrounds the affected tendon can become thickened, thus inhibiting the normally smooth movement of the tendon through it.

Diagnosing wrist tendonitis
Diagnosis of wrist tendonitis is made by looking for characteristic signs of the problem, such as pain over the area of inflammation, or swelling of the surrounding tissues. In addition, your doctor may also choose to perform tests which stretch the affected area to locate the precise source of the problem.

Treating wrist tendonitis
Rest is the most commonly prescribed treatment for wrist tendonitis, often aided by the use of a splint to immobilize the joint. Ice on the affected area may be helpful as well in reducing inflammation. Beyond rest, anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce the swelling of the soft tissues surrounding the tendon. Cortisone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment agent, may also be injected directly into the affected site.

In some cases, when other treatment methods have failed to solve the problem, surgery may be necessary. In these cases, surgical methods are used to release a tightened tendon sheath, or to remove inflamed tissue, in an effort to free up movement of the tendon.

To determine whether you may have the beginnings of wrist tendonitis, be sure to report to your doctor any pain or swelling in your wrist, or any difficulty with movement in the area, so that he or she may review your symptoms and decide if treatment is necessary.