Always warm up before any rigorous exercise and try to find alternative methods or tools for tasks requiring repetitive wrist movement. These steps can help you avoid the pain and discomfort of wrist tendonitis.
Your wrist plays a critically important role in the mobility and function of your hand. The eight wrist bones are moved by muscles and their tendons (strong cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone). Wrist tendonitis occurs when the tendons become irritated and inflamed.
Wrist tendonitis is the result of microscopic tears in the tendon caused by multiple factors. Among these factors are repetitive movements from work or sports activities as well as certain diseases related to joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The aging process can also contribute - tendons lose some elasticity over time and are thus at increased risk for damage. Another factor is infection, which may lead to severe tendonitis.
You will likely experience pain and swelling in the wrist, which is sometimes worse at night. Wrist movement is usually reduced and uncomfortable and you may also notice numbness, tingling and muscle spasms.
The doctor may palpate, or touch, your wrist and will discuss your symptoms with you. You may be asked to bend and straighten the affected hand and wrist with and without resistance.
Conservative treatment focuses on reducing symptoms and promoting healing. Your doctor may place your wrist in a splint to allow the tendons to rest as well as recommending heating pads or ice packs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) or steroids can also ease swelling and inflammation. A physical or occupational therapist will be able to assess your condition and start you on a rehabilitation program. You should notice a marked decrease in symptoms in six to eight weeks.
If the injury is not responding to conservative measures, your doctor will advise you as to whether surgery would be helpful. Following surgery, care is aimed at controlling symptoms during the healing process. Therapy may be necessary to guide your recovery and help you regain flexibility and strength in the wrist and hand.
What You Can Do
You can help to prevent wrist tendonitis by changing your approach to activities. Remember to always warm-up properly before beginning rigorous physical exercise and focus on your posture and body mechanics throughout the day. Incorporate rest breaks into any activity to avoid overuse of the wrist. Whenever possible, use alternative methods or tools for carrying out tasks requiring repetitive motion.
Most patients can be cured with rest and conservative treatment. Chronic cases, however, may be linked to an underlying cause that cannot be completely corrected without surgery. Severe cases are at risk for chronic pain or functional loss due to permanent structural damage to the tendon.