Typing at the computer, writing notes in class, texting; all of these daily activities may leave you feeling pain and stiffness in your wrists that is a common indicator of tendonitis. Whenever you see the suffix “itis,” it means “inflammation”, wrist tendonitis is simply inflammation of the tendons in the wrist. Thankfully with proper care and the help of a chiropractor there are many options for treating inflammation. Once your wrist is healed, your chiropractor can teach you how to modify the motion that caused the inflammation to prevent re-injury. Read on to learn more about the causes and treatments for wrist tendonitis.
Tendons are thick, fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone. When a sudden injury causes a sprain, or repetitive motions cause the tendon to become shortened which alters movement of the underlying joints, inflammation can result.
Together, these tendons are responsible for the complex and subtle movements we use in the wrist, hands, and fingers.
Wrist tendonitis symptoms
It is easy to tell if you have wrist tendonitis because you will experience pain and stiffness in the wrist, especially after you wake up in the morning. The area will also feel tender and sore when you put pressure on it.
Mild swelling may be visible. In addition, the inflamed tendon may make a creaking noise when you move it.
The pain of wrist tendonitis is generally not particularly severe, though fast movements or movements where a lot of weight is being placed on the wrist may lead to some sharp pain. It’s often described as more of a dull, passive ache than a sharp, intense pain.
Wrist tendonitis can decrease the range of motion in your hand, and you may experience weakness when performing routine motions, such as:
- using a computer mouse
- using a computer game controller
What are the causes of wrist tendonitis?
When the tendons of the wrist are working properly, they slide in a sheath lined with synovial fluid to create frictionless movement. Injury or inflammation of the tendon can cause the sheath to thicken, enlarging it and further restricting the fluidity of movement.
The most common cause of this inflammation is usually simple, repetitive motion that puts stress on the tendon over time.
In fact, wrist tendonitis is usually described as a repetitive strain injury because it’s frequently triggered by common everyday activities such as:
- playing sports
- using a computer
- working physically
While repetitive daily motions are the most common culprit for wrist tendonitis, this condition can also be linked to injuries, illnesses and lifestyle habits. Some of these causes include:
- sudden injury (falling on, hitting, or bending the wrist)
- poorly positioned joints or bones
- weak wrists
- age and/or flexibility
It’s important not to confuse wrist tendonitis with arthritis of the wrist or carpal tunnel. One may aggravate the other, but they are different conditions:
- Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint.
- Carpal tunnel is caused by compression of a nerve.
- Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon.
Wrist tendonitis treatment
Your chiropractor has a variety of options to choose from when determining how best to treat your wrist tendonitis. Common treatments include:
- splints and compression to give the overworked tendon time to rest and heal
- Active Release Technique to make the associated muscles mores supple and take tension of the tendon
- stretching to maintain suppleness and improve flexibility
- hot and cold therapy to reduce swelling
- acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other natural preparations to reduce pain
- Cold Laser Therapy to improve circulation and accelerate healing process
Your chiropractor will also look for problematic behaviours that lead to this kind of repetitive stress injury. In more extreme cases, surgery can increase the space between tendons, but this solution is rarely needed.
Movement is necessary and certain repetitive behaviours are difficult to eliminate as they are part of our day-to-day life and work. There are many ways that we can make our muscles and tendons more resilient to repetitive movement. It’s important to speak to your chiropractor about identifying wrist tendonitis and options for treatment.
Please note that any advice in this article doesn’t replace personalized medical advice from a professional.