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Wrist Tendonitis

Wrist tendonitis, a common orthopedic condition, is characterized by inflammation of the tendons surrounding the wrist joint. This inflammation often results from repetitive motion, overuse, or strain on the wrist tendons, causing pain, swelling, and discomfort. 

For those affected, daily activities such as typing, gripping objects, or even simple hand movements can become challenging and painful, impacting overall functionality and quality of life. This article will delve deeper into this condition, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Is Tendonitis in the Wrist?

Wrist tendonitis, also known as tenosynovitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the tendons surrounding the wrist joint. This inflammation typically results from repetitive stress, overuse, or injury, causing the tendons to become irritated and swollen.

Common contributing factors include activities that involve repetitive wrist movements, such as typing, manual labor, or sports-related motions. Additionally, sudden increases in activity level or improper ergonomics may play a role in the development of wrist tendonitis.

As the tendons become inflamed, they can rub against the surrounding sheath or the bony structures of the wrist, leading to pain, swelling, and discomfort. This condition often manifests with symptoms such as aching or sharp pain during wrist movement, stiffness, and, in some cases, a noticeable decrease in grip strength.

The inflammation may affect specific tendons, such as those associated with the thumb or pinky side of the wrist. It can impact daily activities, ranging from simple tasks like lifting objects to more intricate hand movements. Timely intervention, including rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory measures, is crucial to managing wrist tendonitis and preventing its persistence or recurrence.

Symptoms of Tendonitis in the Wrist

Some common symptoms of wrist tendonitis are outlined below:

Difficulty Performing Functional Movements

Individuals with wrist tendonitis often experience challenges in performing everyday activities, including lifting objects, turning doorknobs, or opening jars. The inflammation of tendons restricts the smooth execution of these functional movements, leading to discomfort and reduced hand functionality.


Wrist tendonitis commonly presents with stiffness in the affected joint. This stiffness can impede the range of motion in the wrist, making it difficult for individuals to perform tasks that require flexibility and dexterity.

Popping Sensation in the Wrist

Some individuals may notice a popping sensation in the wrist when affected tendons move. This sensation can be indicative of irritation or friction within the joint, contributing to the discomfort associated with wrist tendonitis.

Swelling Around the Wrist and the Base of the Fingers

Inflammation caused by tendonitis often results in visible swelling around the wrist and the base of the fingers. This swelling can lead to a sensation of tightness and may affect the overall appearance of the hand and wrist.

Wrist Pain

Pain is a hallmark symptom of wrist tendonitis, and it is often localized around the thumb or pinky fingers. The pain may be sharp or aching, exacerbated by wrist movement, and can significantly impact daily activities, prompting individuals to seek relief and effective management strategies for their condition.

More Symptoms You May Experience From Tendonitis in the Wrist

Feeling Of Pins And Needles In Fingers

Are you experiencing the sensation of pins and needles in your fingertips? This is a common symptom of cervical radiculopathy. Although many conditions can cause pins and needles, if it is accompanied by neck pain, then cervical radiculopathy would be at the top of the diagnostic list. Cervical radiculopathy also referred to as a “pinched nerve.”  is a medical syndrome that occurs when a nerve root in the neck ( cervical spine) becomes compressed or irritated leading to symptoms that include pain, numbness, tingling, and potentially weakness. It occurs in about 85 people per 100,000 (1). Read this post to find out more about cervical radiculopathy and how it can cause pins and needles in your fingertips.

Read More About Feeling Of Pins And Needles In Fingers

Hand Ligament Pain

Our hands are critical to everything we do. The hand is composed of 27 bones which are kept together by ligaments. Ligaments are thick bands of connective tissue that connect one bone to another. They provide important stability. Ligaments are susceptible to injury which is called a sprain. Approximately 25% of all sports-related injuries involve the hand or wrist (1). Ligament injuries are graded from one to three based upon their severity. – Grade 1: Is a partial sprain without instability. – Grade 2: Intermediate sprain with partial thickness tear of the ligament – Grade 3: Complete tear of the ligament. There are numerous ligaments in the hand…

Read More About Hand Ligament Pain

Hands Stiff in the Morning

Hand stiffness can make simple tasks overwhelming. Why are my hands stiff in the morning? What are the treatment options for hand stiff in the morning? Are there new, natural treatment options to treat hands that are stiff in the morning? Our hands are central to virtually everything we do. Stiffness can compromise function and cause pain. What are the causes of hand stiffness in the morning? There are many which include: excessive daily wear and tear, medications that can cause hand swelling and stiffness. Common examples include hormones, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, steroids, anti-depressants, and NSAIDs, Diets high in salt, alcohol, and trauma.

Read More About Hands Stiff in the Morning

Motor Issues

Cervical radiculopathy is a condition caused by compression of a cervical nerve root, which can result in pain and sensorimotor deficits. Nerve roots are mixed nerves which are responsible for sensory and motor function.  There are eight cervical nerve roots that branch off from the spinal cord, labeled from C1-C8. Each cervical nerve root supplies a particular region of skin, called a dermatome,and innervates certain groups of muscles, called a myotome. When the cervical nerve root is compressed, the sensory supply to the dermatome in the upper limb can be altered. This can lead to pain, decreased sensation, the feeling of pins and needles, and even numbness. This can also coincide with muscle weakness, and a decreased reflex response.

Read More About Motor Issues

Thumb Pain

Thumb pain can be disabling. A general understanding of the anatomy of the wrist and hand helps one understand possible sources of thumb pain. There are many bones in the hand but for this discussion, we will limit it to two major groups: the carpals and metacarpals. The carpals are eight small bones bound in two rows of four bones each. The metacarpals are five in number and make up our palm region. They lie between the carpals and the fingers (phalanges). The joint space between the carpal bones and the proximal base of the metacarpals make up the CMC (carpometacarpal) joint.

Read More About Thumb Pain

Tingling Sensation in the Hands

Have you ever felt the sensation of a thousand tiny pins and needles pricking your hands or the subtle, electric tingling that runs down your fingers like a gentle current? Tingling sensations in the hands are more common than you might think and can be triggered by a multitude of factors, from temporary nerve compression to chronic medical conditions.  While often dismissed as a momentary inconvenience, this seemingly innocuous tingling can sometimes be a signal from your body, a signpost pointing to underlying health concerns. In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of tingling sensations in the hands, unraveling the causes, potential implications, and, most importantly, what you can do to address them.

Read More About Tingling Sensation in the Hands

When Should You See a Doctor for Your Wrist?

The following symptoms warrant further medical attention.

  • Numbness and/or tingling in hands, fingers, or forearms: If individuals with wrist tendonitis experience numbness or tingling in their hands, fingers, or forearms, it may suggest nerve involvement or compression. This symptom requires prompt medical attention to assess and address potential complications that could be affecting the nerves in the wrist.
  • Increase in pain and swelling: A noticeable escalation in both pain and swelling, beyond what is typical for wrist tendonitis, may indicate an exacerbation of the condition or the development of secondary issues. Seeking medical attention is crucial to determine the underlying cause of the increased symptoms and to implement appropriate interventions for effective management.
  • Severe and persistent swelling of the wrist: Severe and persistent swelling of the wrist, especially if it is not responding to conventional at-home remedies, may signify a more complex issue or complications arising from the tendonitis. Consultation with a healthcare professional is essential to evaluate the severity of the condition, rule out other potential causes, and determine an appropriate course of treatment for optimal recovery.

Common Causes of Tendonitis in the Wrist

Wrist tendonitis typically arises from a variety of factors, often related to repetitive stress, injuries, or overuse. Understanding these contributing causes is crucial for both prevention and effective management of the condition.

Repetitive Stress on the Wrist Tendons

Repetitive stress, such as frequent and sustained activities involving the wrist, can lead to tendonitis. Jobs or hobbies that require constant wrist movement, like typing, assembly line work, or certain sports, create an environment where the tendons endure repetitive strain, increasing the risk of inflammation and the development of wrist tendonitis.


Acute injuries, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or a forceful impact to the wrist, can damage the tendons and trigger inflammation. Traumatic incidents, particularly those involving sudden, forceful movements, contribute to the development of wrist tendonitis and may necessitate medical attention to address both the injury and potential long-term consequences.


Excessive use of the wrist without adequate rest and recovery is a common cause of tendonitis. Overuse can result from prolonged and repetitive activities that strain the wrist tendons, leading to inflammation. Identifying and modifying activities contributing to overuse are essential in preventing the recurrence or exacerbation of wrist tendonitis.

Common Treatments for Tendonitis in the Wrist

Effective management of wrist tendonitis involves a multifaceted approach addressing inflammation and pain and promoting healing. Several treatments can contribute to a comprehensive recovery plan:


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with wrist tendonitis. Additionally, pain-relieving medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to manage symptoms during the recovery process.


Rest is a fundamental aspect of wrist tendonitis treatment. Minimizing activities that exacerbate symptoms allows the affected tendons to heal. Immobilizing the wrist, especially during the acute phase, aids in preventing further strain and supports the body’s natural healing processes.


The RICE protocol is a widely recommended method for managing inflammation and pain associated with tendonitis. Resting the wrist, applying ice to reduce swelling, using compression to support the injured area, and elevating the hand can collectively contribute to symptom relief and expedite the healing process.


Wearing a splint or brace provides stability to the wrist, limiting movement and preventing further stress on the affected tendons. This support aids in reducing inflammation and promoting optimal conditions for healing. Customized splints may be recommended based on the specific needs of the individual.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of wrist tendonitis. Therapists employ exercises to strengthen the wrist, improve flexibility, and address underlying factors contributing to the condition. Customized physical therapy plans, such as those offered by the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, can be instrumental in restoring functionality and preventing recurrence.

Regenerative Medicine

Innovative approaches like regenerative medicine offer promising options for treating wrist tendonitis. Procedures such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections or stem cell therapy aim to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation, accelerating the healing process.

These regenerative treatments provide an alternative for individuals seeking non-surgical interventions for wrist tendonitis and can be explored in consultation with healthcare providers specializing in hand and wrist pain management.

Risk Factors for Tendonitis of the Wrist

The following are risk factors for wrist tendonitis:

  • Age: Advanced age can be a risk factor for wrist tendonitis, as the tendons naturally undergo wear and tear over time. The aging process may lead to decreased tendon flexibility and resilience, making older individuals more susceptible to inflammation and injury.
  • Gender: While wrist tendonitis can affect individuals of any gender, studies suggest that it may be more prevalent in certain gender groups due to occupational and lifestyle factors. For example, certain occupations more commonly held by one gender may involve repetitive wrist movements, increasing the risk of tendonitis.
  • History of injuries: A prior history of wrist injuries, especially those that have not fully healed or have been inadequately rehabilitated, increases the risk of developing tendonitis. Previous trauma can weaken the tendons and make them more susceptible to inflammation with subsequent activities.
  • Poor hand positioning: Prolonged and repetitive activities with poor hand positioning, such as awkward wrist angles during texting, writing, typing, or gaming, can contribute to the development of wrist tendonitis. Maintaining proper ergonomics and hand positioning is crucial in minimizing stress on the tendons.
  • Health conditions: Underlying health conditions, including gout, arthritis, and diabetes, can predispose individuals to wrist tendonitis. These conditions may affect the integrity of the tendons, increase inflammation, or compromise overall joint health, elevating the risk of developing tendon-related issues.
  • Sports requiring repetitive wrist movement: Participation in sports that involve repetitive wrist movements, such as tennis, golf, or weightlifting, increases the likelihood of developing wrist tendonitis. The constant strain on the tendons during these activities can lead to inflammation and potential injury.
  • Not warming up before heavy wrist activity: Failure to warm up adequately before engaging in activities that place heavy demands on the wrist increases the risk of tendonitis. Proper warm-up exercises enhance blood flow, improve flexibility, and prepare the tendons for the stress of subsequent activities, reducing the likelihood of injury. 
  • Smoking: Smoking has been identified as a potential risk factor for tendonitis. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can impact blood circulation and tissue healing, compromising the body’s ability to recover from inflammation and injuries, including those affecting the wrist tendons.
  • Pushing through the pain: Ignoring or pushing through wrist pain during activities can exacerbate existing issues and increase the risk of tendonitis. Persistent pain may signal underlying problems, and continuing strenuous activities without addressing the discomfort can lead to chronic inflammation and injury. Recognizing and addressing pain promptly is crucial in preventing long-term complications.

Get Relief from Wrist Pain from Tendonitis

While wrist tendonitis can be a source of discomfort and impairment, it is reassuring that effective relief is attainable through non-surgical avenues. With proper diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment approach that may include medication, rest, physical therapy, and regenerative medicine, individuals can regain functionality without resorting to surgical interventions.

Early intervention and a commitment to preventive measures contribute to successful outcomes, highlighting the importance of seeking professional care to address wrist tendonitis and its associated symptoms.

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Christopher J. Centeno, MD

Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…

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John Schultz, MD

John R. Schultz M.D. is a national expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate for orthopedic injuries. He is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and underwent fellowship training in both. Dr. Schultz has extensive experience with same day as well as culture expanded bone marrow concentrate and sees patients at the CSC Broomfield, Colorado Clinic, as well the Regenexx Clinic in Grand Cayman. Dr. Schultz emphasis is on the evaluation and treatment of thoracic and cervical disc, facet, nerve, and ligament injuries including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). Dr. Schultz trained at George Washington School of…

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John Pitts, M.D.

Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.

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Jason Markle, D.O.

Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.

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Brandon T. Money, D.O., M.S.

Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…

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