Tendinitis 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 tendinitis, 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, tendinitis 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, shovelling snow, raking, carpentry, and playing sports (such as tennis, baseball, basketball, or skiing) can also cause tendinitis. You’re also at risk of developing tendinitis 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 tendinitis 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.
The best way to prevent tendinitis is to avoid anything that causes excessive stress to the tendons. For example, if you develop tendinitis 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 tendinitis to one specific activity, try doing something different. In some cases, tendinitis 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 tendinitis 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 tendinitis is present as well as rule out any other causes. When it comes to treating tendinitis, there are a wide range of different things that can be tried. 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 tendinitis. Wearing a wrap or compressive bandage, or icing the affected area, can also help reduce pain and inflammation. If the tendinitis 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.