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  • Emily McGuire

Restoring Functionality: Treatments for Hand & Wrist Tendonitis

Our hands and wrists are powerhouses for movement and dexterity. They allow us to perform countless tasks throughout the day, often without a second thought. But when pain strikes, tendonitis in the hands and wrists can disrupt these essential functions. In this blog post, we will go through the various forms of hand and wrist tendonitis, their causes, treatment options, and prevention strategies.

person experiencing hand and wrist tendonitis

Hand & Wrist Tendonitis: Common Causes & Conditions

Tendonitis often arises from repetitive motions that overuse the tendons in your hands and wrists, causing inflammation that leads to pain and other symptoms. Activities like typing, operating machinery or instruments, manual labor, and certain sports can increase the risk of developing these conditions. Certain underlying medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes can also contribute. Common conditions affecting the hands and wrist include:

  • Flexor and Extensor Tendonitis – These tendons run along the palm (flexor) and back (extensor) of your forearm, controlling finger and wrist movement. Repetitive motions can cause inflammation.

  • Intersection Syndrome – this condition affects the tendons responsible for thumb movement near the wrist’s base. Friction between the tendons and a bony prominence in the wrist causes inflammation.

  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis – this condition affects the tendons near the base of your thumb, causing pain and swelling. You can find a more detailed discussion of this condition in our blog post on De Quervain’s tenosynovitis treatments.

  • Trigger Finger – this occurs when inflammation narrows the tendon sheath, causing a finger or thumb to get stuck in a bent position. For a more in-depth look, read our blog post on trigger finger treatments.


Symptoms of Hand and Wrist Tendonitis

The most common symptoms of hand and wrist tendonitis include:

  • Pain that can be dull and aching or sharp and stabbing.

  • Pain that is often worsened by specific activities.

  • Swelling of the fingers, hands, or wrists.

  • Tenderness in the affected area.

  • Weakness or stiffness, sometimes to the point of limiting movement.

  • Rubbing or catching sensation with movement.



Treatment Options for Hand and Wrist Tendonitis

The good news is that hand and wrist tendonitis is usually treatable with non-invasive methods. These may include:

  • Rest – reducing or modifying activities that aggravate the condition is crucial.

  • Ice – applying ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help reduce inflammation.

  • Pain Relievers – over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help manage pain and inflammation in the short term.

  • Splinting – wearing a splint or brace can help immobilize the joint and promote healing.

  • Hand Therapy – a physical or occupational therapist specializing in the hand and upper extremities can design a treatment plan to help reduce pain and improve functionality.

In severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery might be necessary. Consult your doctor before seeking treatment.

Strategies to Prevent Tendonitis

Here are some tips to help prevent hand and wrist tendonitis:

  • Maintain good posture – proper posture, especially when working at a desk, can reduce strain on your wrists and hands.

  • Take frequent breaks – if your job involves repetitive motions, take short breaks throughout the day to stretch your hands and wrists.

  • Warm up before activities – perform gentle stretches before engaging in activities that require hand and wrist strength.

  • Strengthen your hands and wrists – exercises that strengthen the muscles in your hands and wrists can improve their stability and support the tendons.

  • Maintain good hand and wrist mechanics – be mindful of how you use your hands and wrists, avoiding awkward positions or excessive force.


Rehab United Can Help!

Hand and wrist tendonitis can be frustrating, but with proper treatment and preventative measures, you can find relief and regain full function in your hands and wrists. If you experience persistent pain or discomfort, the hand therapists at Rehab United in San Diego can provide you with a customized treatment plan to help restore your hand and wrist health. Request your hand therapy evaluation to get started!


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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Medically Reviewed By: Dana Abbott, OTR/L, an occupational therapist specializing in the hand and upper extremities. Dana attended San Jose State University earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy and continued on to complete additional internship in Hand Therapy. She worked directly under the President of American Society of Hand Surgery for seven years, taking many Hand Therapy courses nationally alongside him, as well as successfully completing a two-year Hand Therapy course by Kaiser Permanente.

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