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General Practice 2023

Wrist tendonitis: symptoms, causes and treatment

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Wrist tendonitis: symptoms, causes and treatment
Wrist tendonitis: symptoms, causes and treatment

Wrist tendonitis, also known as tenosynovitis, is inflammation of the tendons present in the joint, which usually happens due to repetitive hand movements.

This type of tendinitis can cause pain, swelling and redness in the local wrist region, in addition to making it difficult to perform movements with the joint by hand. When there is involvement of the tendon located at the base of the thumb, this inflammation is called De Quervain's tenosynovitis, in which, in addition to the symptoms of tendinitis, there is accumulation of fluid around the tendon.

Treatment should be guided by a physical therapist or orthopedist and may include the use of anti-inflammatories, joint immobilization and physical therapy, and surgery may even be necessary in the most severe cases.

Main symptoms

Classic symptoms of tendinitis in the wrist are:

  • Pain when moving the wrist;
  • Slight swelling in the wrist region;
  • Redness and increased temperature in the wrist;
  • Difficulty moving the hand;
  • Feeling weak in the hand.

Also, some people may also feel as if something is being ground in the wrist area.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis can be made by the orthopedist or physical therapist after observing the region and analyzing the clinical history.

However, more specific tests can also be performed to identify tendinitis and even imaging tests, such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging, which, in addition to helping in the diagnosis, allow us to identify if there is any calcification in the tendon, which may influence treatment.

Main causes

Wrist tendinitis is classified as a repetitive strain injury (RSI), that is, it tends to happen as a result of repetitive joint movement, and can happen due to several situations, such as:

  • Excessive use of thumbs and arms with repetitive movements;
  • Write a lot;
  • Hold the baby on your lap with the thumb facing down;
  • Paint;
  • Fishing;
  • Type;
  • Sew;
  • Do weight training exercises that involve the wrist joint;
  • Playing a musical instrument for many hours straight.

Tendinitis can also happen due to a lot of strain on the muscles involved, such as holding something very heavy, such as a shopping bag in one hand, for a long period of time.

How the treatment is done

Treatment may vary according to the severity of the inflammation, but in all cases it is necessary to rest the joint so that the inflammation does not worsen. The best way to rest is through immobilization, because that way the joint is not used, which favors improvement. In addition, you can also put ice on the site for a few minutes, as it also helps to relieve the symptoms of inflammation.


Stretching and strengthening exercises can be used from day one and are essential for recovery. It may be helpful to do the exercise of squeezing a soft ball or play dough in 3 sets of 20 repetitions. In addition, the physical therapist may also use joint mobilization techniques and tapes to immobilize the tendon.

Physiotherapy for wrist tendinitis can be done with electrotherapy and thermotherapy devices that help relieve inflammation and fight pain, as well as exercises that increase mobility and strength of weakened muscles.Devices such as Tens, Ultrasound, Laser and Galvanic Current can be used to accelerate healing.


The main characteristic of this disease is the degeneration and thickening of the tendon sheath, located in the wrist and therefore, surgery can be useful to release the tendon sheath, facilitating the movement of the tendons within it. Surgery should only be used as a last resort, when even after months of physical therapy there is no improvement in symptoms and even after this procedure it will be necessary to undergo physical therapy to regain strength, movement and reduce pain and swelling.

Home treatment for wrist tendonitis

A great home treatment for wrist tendonitis is to place an ice pack on your wrist for 20 minutes daily, twice a day. But to protect your skin from burns, wrap the ice pack (or a package of frozen vegetables) in a sheet of kitchen paper.After this period, the region will be anesthetized and it will be easier to perform the following stretching:

  1. Stretch your arm with your palm facing up;
  2. With the help of the other hand, stretch the fingers backwards towards the floor, keeping the arm straight;
  3. Hold the position for 1 minute and rest 30 seconds.

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