How Do You Recognize Hand and Wrist Tendinitis?

Summit hand and upper extremity surgeon J.P. Delaney, M.D., discusses how you can recognize hand and wrist tendinitis.

Pain and stiffness in the hand and wrist can make so many everyday activities, from washing dishes to getting dressed to opening the mail difficult. Knowing what is causing these symptoms is a key first step in feeling better. So how can you recognize hand and wrist tendinitis?

Tendinitis happens when a tendon — in this case, one of the many tendons in the hands or wrists — gets irritated and inflamed. Tendons go through narrow spaces, and if a tendon gets inflamed in that narrow space, it can develop irritation as it moves.

How do you recognize hand and wrist tendinitis?

The good news is, it can be a short-term problem. “Tendinitis is an acute problem. Something causes the irritation, and if you can treat it, you can reverse it and be pain-free for a lifetime,” said Summit hand and upper extremity surgeon J.P. Delaney, M.D.

Tendinitis symptoms often mimic those of another common hand and wrist problem: arthritis.  But there is a key difference, according to Dr. Delaney. “Arthritis is a chronic problem. There is no way to reverse arthritis once someone has it. Treatment focuses on figuring out how to manage arthritis symptoms prior to doing something surgical,” he said.

There are many tendons in the hand, all of which can have tendinitis. Tendinitis also can happen at the wrist. One of the most common forms of tendinitis is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which affects the two tendons that connect to the thumb. “The most common symptom is pain at the wrist, especially when you are grabbing things or reaching out to lift things up. For example, if you grab a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator and feel pain at the wrist,” that’s a classic sign of De Quervain’s,” Dr. Delaney said.

How do you treat hand and wrist tendinitis?

Treatment is typically nonsurgical and conservative. Options include a wrist brace, with or without a steroid injection. “The steroid injection goes right inside the tunnel that the tendon is trying to move through, to reduce inflammation,” Dr. Delaney said. Other treatments include rest and oral anti-inflammatory medications.

If your tendinitis pain keeps coming back, and you’ve had multiple rounds of injections without long-term relief, a surgical release may be the right way to go. Talk with your Summit hand and upper extremity surgeon about your options.

Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise

The function of our hands connects through our wrists and arms to our shoulders; a problem anywhere along our arm may have a significant impact on hand function and quality of life. If you experience an injury or uncomfortable symptoms, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist surgeons are here to help. Summit physicians receive the highest levels of training and exclusively provide individualized care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Start your journey to better function and less pain. Find your hand expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • J.P. Delaney, M.D.

    “As a college hockey player I experienced my fair share of injuries. I understand the sense of uncertainty associated with surgery and recovery. I believe listening, honesty, and education enable patient confidence. I rely on these qualities to help patients understand what to expect and optimize outcomes.”

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