Tendonitis of the wrist (aka Repetitive Strain Injury)

By Jay Herrera, DPT
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Young woman holding her wrist pain because using computer long time. De Quervain's tenosynovitis, Intersection Symptom, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Office syndrome.Disease and healthcare concept

What is Wrist Tendonitis?

This term refers to inflammation of the tendons within the wrist, which connect muscle to bone. Injury or inflammation can also create a tendon sheath thickening that limits movement.

Symptoms of wrist tendonitis

Inflammation of the tendons within the wrist can cause pain, swelling, tenderness and even a “creaking” sound, called “crepitus” with wrist motion.

Weakness may be felt with the following actions:

  • Typing
  • Using a computer mouse or video game control
  • Throwing
  • Gripping
  • Pinching



Causes of wrist tendonitis

While a specific traumatic injury can injure the tendons of the wrist, such as a fall, the most common causes are due to repetitive movements one typically performs using a computer, writing, playing sports or work related activities.

Additional causes include:

  • Age
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Weak wrist
  • Acute injury by hitting or falling on the wrist

How to alleviate pain of Tendonitis wrist

Typical treatment options for tendonitis include:

  • Hot and cold packs to decrease swelling
  • NSAIDS (non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and acetaminophen
  • Stretching exercises to enhance flexibility
  • Splints and compression wraps to rest the tendons involved
  • Occupational therapy/ physical therapy techniques

If pain persists, consider:

  • Corticosteroid injections for relief of inflammation
  • Acupuncture

While acupuncture cannot eliminate inflammation of wrist tendons, studies show that it can improve circulation to tendons and the tissue surrounding them, thereby speeding the healing process. Acupuncture also aids in decreasing the pain caused by tendonitis.

Surgery to spread the tendons is rarely needed.