Tendonitis is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) that causes inflammation or irritation of the tendon. It’s often caused by overuse of the wrist but may also be caused as a result of rheumatoid disease or infection. Anyone can develop tendonitis, though it’s more common in adults. As we age, our tendons become less elastic, making it much easier for them to tear.
Along with the wrist, tendonitis can also occur in other areas of the body including the knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. Partaking in certain activities such as writing, typing, painting, cleaning house, shoveling snow, raking, carpentry, and playing sports (such as tennis, baseball, basketball, or skiing) can also cause tendonitis. You’re also at risk of developing tendonitis if you have poor posture, pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or a thyroid disorder, develop an infection in the hand, or simply by doing too much at once. Pain caused by tendonitis can build from mild to severe, and sometimes it can even be sudden. It is usually described as an aching pain, and the patient may also experience some swelling of the affected area.
Dr. Ali Ghahary says the best way to prevent tendonitis is to avoid anything that causes excessive stress to the tendons. For example, if you develop tendonitis as a result of typing or writing for prolonged periods of time, you should take a break from doing so for at least a few days to a week if possible. You should also mix up the activities you do. If you’re able to pinpoint tendonitis to one specific activity, try doing something different. In some cases, tendonitis may be a result of not using certain equipment properly; for example, exercise machines. If this is the case, it may be beneficial to either have a personal trainer or find someone who is able to teach you how to use the equipment properly. You should also stretch. Stretching will not only help improve your range of motion, but it will also significantly minimize trauma.
Diagnosing tendonitis is fairly easy to do. In many cases, a diagnosis can be made based off of a patient’s symptoms alone. However, in some cases the patient may need to be referred for an x-ray in order to confirm if tendonitis is present as well as rule out any other causes. When it comes to treating tendonitis, Dr. Ghahary recommends a wide range of different things. As mentioned, you should always avoid putting any extra stress on the tendons. You can also try over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. These medications will help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with tendonitis. Wearing a wrap or compressive bandage, or icing the affected area, can also help reduce pain and inflammation. If the tendonitis is severe, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection, though corticosteroids are generally not recommended as a long-term method of treatment, as frequent injections can actually weaken the tendon and worsen the condition. To help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons, physiotherapy can also be helpful. A physiotherapist is someone who specializes in helping bring back a patient’s range of motion through different exercises and techniques. If you would like to see a physiotherapist your doctor can set you up with a referral. You may also need to see an orthopaedic surgeon, but that is usually done as a last-resort method once all other avenues have been exhausted.