The hand and wrist consist of many ligaments, muscles, and bones, which enable movement and dexterity. The muscles in the hand allow the movement of the bones, while the ligaments hold together and protect the joints. We must use our hands for almost all of the activities we do. Because of this, our hands and wrists are often exposed to overuse and are vulnerable to injury.
Hand and wrist tendonitis is the tendency of the delicate tendons of the hand and wrist to swell.
Wrist and hand tendonitis conditions are most often caused by repetitive use and are common in people work with computers, work in factories and those who are involved in athletic activities. Individuals who must use their hands to accomplish their work often stress them, which leads to the inflammation and irritation of the tendons.
The risk of developing a tendonitis condition increases with age. As you become older your tendons lose their elasticity and can become brittle; this makes them more likely to become inflamed.
The first signs of tendonitis will be pain while the hand and wrist are being used or are under strain. This may be while you are working or doing a leisure activity using your hands a lot, like knitting or playing a sport. You may also experience tightness, aching or burning of the hands especially during gripping or holding things.
As the tendonitis worsens the pain may become more regular, and throughout the day regardless of use or strain. Other symptoms include: stiffness and decreased mobility, inflammation or swelling of the wrist and fingers, and a feeling of heat, redness or a snapping sensation with certain movements.
What to expect from therapy
Hand and wrist tendonitis are often very treatable. Treatment begins by resting the involved body parts. Your doctor may advise you to avoid moving or using the hand and wrist in ways that tend to cause or increase your pain.
Often times a simple wrist support will assist in taking the strain off of the wrist and hand. Allowing the tendons to rest should decrease the inflammation and irritation.
Other common early conservative treatment techniques include: applying ice packs to the area intermittently and taking anti-inflammatory medications to decrease swelling and pain. You may also be referred to a therapist for early treatment of your tendonitis condition.
Your therapist will assist you in determining activities, postures and movements which are likely to increase your pain and symptoms. You will be given education in techniques to modify these activities or in use of assistive devices to help reduce your risk for further irritation and progression of the condition. These strategies may include wrist supports and modification to your workstation to improve posture and performance.
Therapy will also include education in stretching and warm-up exercises, as well as a strengthening program to improve your tolerance to activities requiring the use of your hands. The therapist will often also incorporate various treatment modalities including ultrasound, electrical stimulation and manual techniques which will promote healing of the irritated tissues and decreased pain and inflammation.
If conservative treatments do not result in an acceptable improvement in the condition, your doctor may advise a cortisone injection; and/or rarely, these conditions require surgical intervention to remove the damaged, irritated tissues to allow for healing and recovery from the aggravating conditions.