Tendonitis is a painful condition that can attack any of the numerous tendons in the body. Also known as overuse tendonopathy, it can result in complications if not properly treated. Hand pain and wrist pain may be signs of tendonitis – here are the basics about this condition and hand treatment, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center, with locations in Port Charlotte and Fort Myers.
Tendonitis is most commonly a repetitive motion injury, although it occasionally results from an acute injury such as a fall. In the hand, it often results from activities such as keyboarding or using a tool that requires you to grip. Sports such as tennis or golf can result in tendonitis as well. Tiny tears in the tendon – called micro tears – result in hand pain. If the condition is not treated, those tears can become worse, eventually leading to a complete tear. The tendon becomes inflamed and thick, leading to limited motion and loss of strength due to pain.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The first symptom of tendonitis is usually pain in the affected area. If there is inflammation, you may also have redness, swelling or heat along the path of the tendon. Some people report a feeling of crunching when they move the tendon and loss of strength is typical. Pain and stiffness is usually worse first thing in the morning. Diagnosis is based on a health history and physical examination. Other conditions such small joint arthritis can cause similar symptoms. An ultrasound or MRI may help to determine if the tendon is dislocated, thickened or torn. However, in most cases, these diagnostic tests are unnecessary, especially when tendonitis is first diagnosed.
Conservative Hand Treatment
The goal in treating overuse tendonopathy is to relieve pain, restore movement and reduce inflammation. As with many musculoskeletal conditions, adequate rest is essential. Treatment typically starts with RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen may be helpful. An injection of corticosteriods – a prescription anti-inflammatory medication – may be helpful in some cases. Exercise should help rest the tendon while strengthening nearby muscle groups. Ultrasound and whirlpool treatments help relax muscles and tendons and improve circulation.
Other Hand Treatment Options
When conservative measures don’t help, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive treatment such as focused aspiration of scar tissue (FAST). This is an outpatient procedure under localized anesthesia. Using ultrasound imaging – a technique like the sonogram used to see a baby in the womb – the doctor locates the thickened scar tissue. A small instrument inserted into the scar tissue delivers ultrasonic energy to break up and remove the damaged tissue. Healing usually takes one or two months, compared to six months to a year with conservative treatment.
Contact Florida Hand Center
Hand treatment for tendonitis does take a certain amount of time, since rest is essential. You and your doctor should discuss options and choose the best treatment method. If you suffer from hand pain, please contact the Florida Hand Center at 941-625-6547 for an assessment and treatment recommendations.