Wrist tendonitis is inflammation in the tendons that connect the muscles in your forearm to the bones in your hand. It may cause pain when you make a fist, lift objects or perform repetitive wrist movements.
Wrist tendinitis (tendonitis) is inflammation in the tough tissues of your wrist that connect the muscles of your forearm to bones in your hand. There are about six tendons in your wrist that help you control your wrist, hand and fingers. Irritation and wrist pain can affect any of these tendons if you overuse them or sustain an injury such as a sprain.
One of the most common forms of wrist tendonitis is de Quervain’s tendinitis. It affects the tendons near your thumb. You can also get ulnar tendinitis, which is irritation of the tendons on the pinkie side of your hand.
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People who perform activities that put a lot of stress on their wrists are at risk for tendinitis (tendonitis). New mothers and childcare providers who lift and hold babies for multiple hours each day are especially prone to this condition, often called “mommy’s wrist” another term for de Quervain’s tendinitis.
Other risk factors for wrist tendonitis include:
Wrist tendonitis, such as de Quervain’s tendinitis, is rare. It occurs in about 0.5% of men and 1.3% of women.
Wrist tendinitis (tendonitis) is typically the result of repetitive stress on the tendons in your wrist. A layer of lubricated tissue, called a tendon sheath, surrounds your tendons. Overuse can irritate the sheath, leading to inflammation and enlargement. Then it’s harder for your tendons to glide smoothly through the sheath, causing compression on your tendon and making wrist and finger movements painful.
Symptoms of wrist tendinitis may include:
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms. They may palpate (press) on certain parts of your forearm, wrist, hand or fingers to check for swelling or tenderness. Your healthcare provider may also ask you to perform certain movements, such as forming a fist or rotating your wrist, so they can isolate the source of your pain.
Sometimes, symptoms of wrist tendinitis (tendonitis) are similar to those of other conditions that affect the wrist and fingers, such as:
Most people find relief from wrist tendon pain with a combination of conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. Your healthcare provider may recommend:
If your symptoms don’t improve after several months of conservative treatments, you may need surgery for wrist tendinitis (tendonitis). There are several approaches to wrist tendon surgery, but most involve:
Wrist tendon surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, so you likely won’t need to stay overnight in the hospital. You may receive local, regional or general anesthesia. You’ll have a bandage or wrap on your wrist, and stitches typically come out after about two weeks.
Wrist tendinitis is a safe procedure with a low risk of complications. But, like all surgeries, it does carry some risks, including:
Tips for preventing wrist tendon pain include:
Most people respond very well to treatment and don’t have long-term wrist damage or pain. After your wrist heals, physical therapy or occupational therapy can help you improve strength and mobility in your wrist. Therapists can also show you how to continue doing the activities you enjoy with less strain on your wrists.
After you have a tendon injury, you’re more likely to injure the tendon again. Be especially careful to protect your wrists when playing sports or performing repetitive movements. Most importantly, don’t push through pain. Pain is your body’s way of speaking to you, and you should listen to it.
Contact your doctor if you:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Wrist tendinitis (tendonitis) is inflammation in the tendons that connect your lower arm to the bones in your fingers. The condition can cause pain when you grip and lift objects or move your wrist or fingers. Wrist tendon pain usually goes away with rest, medication, injections or splinting. Some people need surgery, though. If you have a job or play a sport that involves repetitive wrist movements, be sure to take frequent breaks to rest and stretch your wrists. Talk to your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/08/2021.
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