Tendonitis occurs when tendons (thick cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone) become inflamed. Although tendonitis can occur throughout the entire body, it’s more likely to occur in certain areas than others. When tendonitis occurs in the hands and wrists, the experts at Cohen/Winters can step in and alleviate your symptoms with surgical measures.

Before seeking treatment, you should have a general understanding of tendonitis, and be able to identify the associated symptoms.

What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis refers to the inflammation of tendons that work with muscles to create a pulling force, allowing for movement in the body. There are variations of tendonitis, such as tenosynovitis and tendonosis. Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the sheath around the tendon. This can occur in conjunction with tendonitis. On the other hand, tendonosis is similar to tendonitis but is a chronic, degenerative condition.

Although tendonitis can occur throughout the body, it is typically found in areas with joints like the wrist, hand, elbow, knee or shoulder. You have probably heard of different kinds of tendonitis due to their nicknames, which are often associated with sports injuries: tennis elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, etc. These nicknames are given due to the fact that tendonitis occurs from overuse, repeated movement or injury.

Tendonitis can affect men and women of any age. It tends to be most prevalent in individuals who play sports. It may become more obvious in older, active adults as tendons become weaker with age. This condition may also be apparent in pregnant or perimenopausal women since their hormones can cause fluctuations, inducing swelling, especially around the wrist and the base of the thumb. Sometimes tendonitis is caused by a single injury, but more often than not it’s a combination of factors like age and repetitive use after an injury.

Symptoms of Tendonitis

The symptoms of tendonitis can be difficult to recognize because they may come and go. Typically, symptoms of tendonitis occur in spots where the tendon meets the bone, usually around joints. In hands, this often occurs around the wrist at the base of the thumb. Common symptoms of tendonitis include:

  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Cracking or grating near the tendon (becomes worse with movement)
  • Pain or a dull ache (becomes worse with movement)
  • A sensation of heat near the tendon
  • A lump along the tendon

It’s important to treat tendonitis as it develops, in order to prevent surgical intervention. In extreme or severe cases of tendonitis, the tendon can rupture, causing a gap along the tendon that can only be fixed with surgery.

Usually, the first attempt at treating tendonitis is to avoid any pain-causing activities, whether it’s playing sports or doing housework. An over-the-counter splint can stabilize the wrist, while over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can help relieve pain. Try stretching and using these preventative measures to keep your tendonitis from flaring up.

If these treatments don’t offer relief, the next step is usually physical therapy or cortisone shots. The aim of these methods is to reduce inflammation in the affected area. Often, these methods work temporarily or during the early stages of tendonitis. If the tendonitis has progressed, surgery may be the only solution for complete relief.

Seeking Treatment for Your Tendonitis

Unlike other hand conditions, to have tendonitis diagnosed your doctor will need to run a series of tests to determine the precise location of the issue. The doctor will try to move your tendon, which may cause an audible cracking sound. Further tests may be needed if rest, ice and other at-home treatments are unsuccessful. An x-ray may reveal calcium deposits on the tendon, while imaging tests like ultrasound and MRI can show swelling.

The surgeons at Cohen/Winters are skilled not only in alleviating the symptoms of tendonitis through surgery but also with their unique approach to patient care. It’s important to understand tendonitis and related hand conditions, especially when you’re experiencing pain and discomfort. By speaking with a skilled doctor, you can begin to feel at ease as you take steps toward overcoming tendonitis.

To find relief, choose a surgeon who understands tendonitis and is familiar with the condition and the available treatments. Not all surgeons routinely work with tendonitis patients like the hand experts at Cohen/Winters. At Cohen/Winters, your surgeon will take time to look at past treatments to understand your current and future needs before taking the necessary measures to restore function in your affected hand.

hand surgeon NJ

Dr. Yueh

About Dr. Yueh

Dr. Janet H. Yueh specializes in hand surgery including Trigger Finger, Basal Joint Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis. Dr. Yueh did her undergraduate work at Harvard University in Cambridge where she graduated magna cum laude. She continued her education at Harvard Medical School where she earned her M.D.