Tendinitis in wrists: Causes, symptoms, exercises, and home remedies

By: Emily Lunardo | Bone Health | Monday, June 20, 2016 - 10:30 AM

Tendinitis in wristsWrist tendinitis is literally the inflammation of the wrist. This term can be a bit misleading, however, as studies have shown, there is in fact very little inflammation associated with the overuse of the wrist, which is what theoretically leads to the wrist tendinitis. Actually, the damage is more associated with the degeneration of collagen and the disorientation of other molecules and fibers in the wrist area.

The wrist itself is formed by the joining of the longer radius and ulna bones with the smaller set of carpal bones. The wrist and what is referred to as the finger flexors make it possible for your wrist and fingers to bend forward. The wrist and what is called the finger extensors do the opposite. They straighten and bend back the wrist and fingers. All activities performed by the wrist and fingers owe its activity to these bones.

Wrist tendinitis causes

The primary cause of wrist tendinitis is overuse of that area. The constant or repetitive use of the wrist wears on the tendons. We see a lot of this with athletes playing sports that require them to continually use their wrist muscles. Sports such as golf and tennis are the main athletic culprits, with other sports such as gymnastics also contributing to this condition.

Although these types of injuries often occur in athletes, they are not limited to just this one group. Careers such as painting or landscaping, carpentry, or even the regular use of a hammer can cause wrist tendinitis. Even further, hobbies like gardening or sewing, or working on a computer all day contribute to the tendinitis pain in the wrist.

On other occasions, simply lifting something heavy or falling on your wrist can initiate tendinitis. On top of that, a medical history of back or shoulder pain is also a contributing factor to the onset of wrist tendinitis.

Wrist tendinitis signs and symptoms

Pain in the wrist area is probably the most telling sign of tendinitis in the wrist. If you regularly participate in the activities mentioned above and experience this pain, chances are, the tendinitis is the cause of that pain.

But there are other symptoms that point to possible wrist tendinitis. Swelling in the wrist area is one sign, a sort of grinding sensation when you move your wrist is another indication, and the warming or redness of tendons are considered precursors to wrist tendinitis.

A physician should be able to decipher tendinitis by performing routine tests. Stretching the tendons will help precisely pinpoint the origins of the pain and help the doctor make more accurate suggestions for treatment. It’s important that you do not attempt to self-diagnose your condition. When dealing with tendons and muscles, the effects can linger and worsen if not treated properly. That can only happen with the proper diagnosis by a medical professional.

Treatment and exercise options for wrist tendinitis

Relieving wrist tendinitis can be achieved in several ways.

  • Immobilizing the wrist: Normally, the first step of treatment is placing the wrist in a splint or even a cast. This will prevent one of the primary causes of wrist tendinitis, which is repetitive movements, and help rest the tendons so the inflammation is given time to reduce.
  • Icing the area: Ice is good for two things. First, it helps increase the blood flow to the area. Next, it reduces any inflammation that may have arisen because of the tendinitis.
  • Medications to reduce inflammation: The inflammation of the tendons is typically what causes the most pain. Taking anti-inflammatory medication will help ease much of the pain and decrease any swelling.
  • Injection of cortisone: This is an option that should not be done too often. It works much like anti-inflammatory medication, except that the repeated use of cortisone can actually make the tendons weaker over time.
  • Surgery: The very last option is to have surgery on your wrist area to heal the tendinitis. Surgeons will either remove the inflamed tissue or release the tendon sheath responsible for pain.

Exercising the affected wrist area is fairly simple and straightforward. Wrist bends, wrist rotations, and side wrist bends done twice a day should be enough. The key is to be consistent and not skip any days of therapy.

Home remedies for wrist tendinitis

Much of the home remedies you can do to treat the tendinitis in your wrists resemble the regular treatments. Lots of rest, immobilizing the wrist area by putting it in a splint or possibly even a cast, and icing the affected area are all suitable remedies. The splint is something you may need help with, but the other two options are ones you can do with no help at all.

Regardless of the severity of your tendinitis, rest will always be part of the treatment. As we’ve mentioned, tendinitis is caused by the constant moving of the wrist area, so giving it the appropriate amount of time to rest will in some way reduce the inflammation and at least some of the pain.

It’s also important to make sure you take tendinitis seriously. Though it can start out as being an annoying pain, it can develop into an ongoing condition that requires surgery. At its worst, tendinitis is debilitating and can make you miss work and hamper any physical activity. The sooner your condition gets diagnosed and treated, the smaller the chances of your tendinitis lingering. Quick and effective treatment in the short term can prevent these long-term issues.

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