Working Healthy

Personal Trainer: Wrist Tendonitis

Any time you see “itis” attached to a word, you know it means “inflamed” or “swollen.” Wrist tendonitis, then, is the inflammation of the tendons in the wrist. Though painful and potentially restrictive, tendonitis is reversible with adequate commitment to treatment and time.


Wrist tendonitis is often confused with carpal tunnel syndrome because the two conditions share many of the same symptoms: tingling, stiffness, pain, restricted movement, weakness, and even swelling. Those who suffer with it often rub their wrist or shake out and clench their hands. The condition differs from carpal tunnel syndrome in that tendonitis is the result of inflamed tendons, either from damage or overuse, while carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of a compressed nerve.


Repetitive work, such as doing nails, can overuse certain muscles and prevent them from fully flexing and extending. Over time, muscles tire. In their weakened state, the muscles work incorrectly, which places strain on the tendons. This can cause small tears to the tendon, but even if the tendons aren’t damaged through tearing, the continued strain aggravates them, which triggers the body to send blood to the distressed site. The area becomes inflamed, worsening the pain. Removing the inflammation (the body’s protective system) through anti-inflammatory drugs may ease the pain, but it doesn’t cure the problem (the strained tendons). To address the problem, you must increase the range of motion, improve mobility of the muscles, and relieve the strain on the tendons.

At-home prevention/management

Practice the RICE method at home: Rest the wrist, use Ice to reduce swelling (heat brings more blood to the area, exactly the opposite of what we need), use a wristband to Compress the area and support the tendons, and Elevate the wrists to move blood away from the site. Stretch multiple times a day, especially in the morning to warm up the muscles, and after extended use to relieve strained muscles. Finally, holistic solutions, such as massage and trigger point release, can improve mobility and range of motion of the muscle, and reduce strain on the tendon.


<p>While standing or sitting, fully extend your right arm until the elbow is straight in front of you. Use your left hand to gently bend the right wrist and fingers backwards, with palm facing out, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for 15 seconds.</p>

<p>Change direction with the same hand. Use your left hand to gently bend the right wrist and fingers forward, with palm facing in, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat steps one and two, alternating between the steps four times for a total of two minutes, the amount of time the soft tissue needs to increase its range of motion. Switch arms and alternate between steps one and two four times with 15-second holds.</p>

Medical interventions

It’s important to treat the problem, not the pain, but nobody wants to feel the pain. So, while you treat tendonitis with stretching and resting, you can reduce swelling with anti-inflammatory medication, such as Aleve or Advil, or get relief from pain with aspirin. Treatment for tendonitis is not found in medicine, but in rest, stretching, and the other “at-home” solutions.

This article is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.


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