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General Practice 2023

Tenosynovitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Tenosynovitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Tenosynovitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Tenosynovitis is inflammation of a tendon and the tissue that covers a group of tendons, called the tendon sheath, which generates symptoms such as local pain and a sensation of muscle weakness in the affected area. Some of the more common types of tenosynovitis include De Quervain's tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, both in the wrist.

Generally, tenosynovitis is more common after an injury to the tendon and, therefore, is a relatively common injury in athletes or people who do a lot of repetitive movements, such as carpenters or dentists, for example, but it can also happen infections or complications from other degenerative diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Depending on the cause, tenosynovitis is curable and, almost always, it is possible to relieve symptoms with appropriate treatment, which may include anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids, for example, always guided by an orthopedist.

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of tenosynovitis can include:

  • Difficulty moving a joint;
  • Pain in a tendon;
  • Redness of the skin over the affected tendon;
  • Lack of muscle strength.

These symptoms may appear slowly over time and usually appear in places where the tendons are more susceptible to injury such as hands, feet or wrists. However, tenosynovitis can develop in any tendon in the body, including the tendons in the shoulder, knee, or elbow area, for example.

See a very common type of tendinitis in the elbow and how to treat it.

How to confirm the diagnosis

In most cases, tenosynovitis can be diagnosed by the orthopedist only by evaluating the symptoms presented, however, the doctor may also order other tests such as ultrasound or MRI, for example.

What can cause tenosynovitis

Tenosynovitis is much more frequent in athletes or professionals in areas where it is necessary to make several repetitive movements such as carpenters, dentists, musicians or secretaries, for example, as there is a greater risk of developing a tendon injury.

However, tenosynovitis can also arise when you have some type of infection in the body or as a complication of other degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, gout, diabetes or reactive arthritis.

The cause is not always determined in all cases, however, the doctor may recommend treatment to relieve symptoms and improve the person's quality of life.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for tenosynovitis should always be guided by an orthopedist or physical therapist, but usually aims to reduce inflammation and pain. For this, it is advised to keep the affected area at rest whenever possible, avoiding activities that may have caused the initial injury.

In addition, the doctor may also prescribe the use of anti-inflammatories, such as Diclofenac or Ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and pain. However, other more natural strategies such as massage, stretching and using ultrasound can also improve tendon inflammation. Here are some exercises to stretch the tendons and relieve pain.

In more severe cases, where symptoms do not improve with any of these strategies, the orthopedist may also advise injections of corticosteroids directly into the affected tendon and, as a last resort, surgery.

When physical therapy is needed

Physiotherapy is indicated for all cases of tenosynovitis, even after the symptoms have improved, as it helps to stretch the tendons and strengthen the muscles, ensuring that the problem does not recur.

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