Wrist Tendonitis - Everything You Need To Know
Posted on 17th May 2023 at 11:41
Tanya has been practising yoga for quite some time now, and in the beginning, she found her wrists, particularly her left wrist, to be weak. Fast forward a few months and both wrists got stronger, with no issues.
One of her goals for a couple of years now has been to do a handstand from a dead start, so no bouncing her legs up like when she was little. No, the hard way is to slowly lift the legs up into position. Hence why it’s taking her so long and she has yet to achieve it!
To help her with strength, Tanya started working out in the gym with Harry, lifting weights, squatting, and doing a lot of hanging leg raises. These were all great and led her closer to her goal. Then the dreaded injury happened. She was doing a lot of handstands to practice her new strength, and her right wrist began to become a problem. She had wrist tendonitis.
Wrist tendonitis, also known as tenosynovitis, is a common condition that usually affects one of the tendons but may also involve two or more of the tendons around the wrist.
Tendons connect muscle to bone, and the wrist tendons connect the forearm muscles to the bones of the hand and fingers. The wrist tendons slide through smooth sheaths as they pass by the wrist joint.
These tendon sheaths allow the tendons to glide smoothly as the wrist bends back and forth in a low-friction manner. The tendon sheaths have a fluid within the sheath called synovial fluid, and when this area becomes inflamed, the condition is called tenosynovitis.
The tendons of the wrist can be broken into two groups, those that flex the wrist, and those that extend the wrist. Either group can be irritated and cause pain, but it is more common for the flexors to be irritated. This is because, if you are doing a lot of activities on your hands, like handstands or yoga, your wrists are bent with force going through them. This was Tanya's problem.
The most common and consistent complaint of clients diagnosed with wrist tendonitis is pain in the wrist. Other symptoms of wrist tendonitis can include:
Swelling around the wrist joint
Warmth and redness of the tendons
Grinding sensations (crepitus) with the movement of the tendons
Treating Wrist Tendonitis
Not every client who has wrist tendonitis will be treated the same because everyone is different and heals differently. Regardless of this, rehabilitation will always start with steps that will reduce inflammation and give the tendon time to heal. This will include icing, resting, and massaging the surrounding area to offload the tendon.
Some of the treatment plans may include:
Immobilisation: Placing the wrist in a splint or a cast is usually the first treatment step. Wrist tendonitis is due to recurrent irritation of the tendon and its sheath. By resting the tendon, the inflammation should decrease.
Icing the Injury: Applying an ice pack intermittently to the area of inflammation may also be beneficial. Icing wrist tendonitis can help to cool inflammation and stimulate blood flow to the area of tendonitis.
Anti-Inflammatory medications: If the client is OK to take them, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will help control symptoms of pain and help to decrease inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues.
Massage: Massaging the whole forearm to release tension that would have built up over time will help to ease the tendon and release any scar tissue.
Kinesiology taping: Taping the wrist is also a great way to help with the healing process. Here is a video from John Gibbons on how to do this.
Long term prevention
Being mindful of what activities she is doing and not overloading the wrist is the best way for Tanya to prevent flare-ups. She took a couple of weeks off from yoga and handstands and adjusted her training to stay off her wrist. She also got three 30-minute massages during this period to speed up the process.
It’s also important for her to look at her technique when she's lifting weights or putting her body weight through her wrists. Changing the position of her hand could be all it takes to take the pressure off that tendon.
She can use straps, splints, or a brace to support her wrist while doing the activity that loads the wrist.
For Tanya, she was back to training and yoga within 4 weeks, but this can be different for everyone. She spotted the signs early and acted. This is so important otherwise it can be harder to treat if left and the symptoms can get worse - which of course would have impacted on her job.
If you think you might have wrist tendonitis or any other issues with your wrists, speak to us to see if we can help.
Share this post: