Wrist Tendon Injury

What is a wrist tendon injury?

A wrist tendon injury is a problem with the muscles and tendons in your wrist. Tendons are bands of strong tissue that attach muscle to bone. You use the tendons and muscles in your wrist to move your wrist in all directions.

Tendons can be injured suddenly or they may be slowly damaged over time. You can have tiny or partial tears in your tendon. If you have a complete tear of your tendon, it is called a rupture. Other tendon injuries may be called a strain, tendinosis, or tendinitis.

What is the cause?

Wrist tendon injuries can be caused by:

  • Overuse of the tendon from a sport or work activity that involves moving your wrist, such as throwing, catching, bowling, hitting a tennis ball, typing, or sewing
  • A sudden activity that twists or tears your tendon, such as falling and landing on your wrist

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your wrist and forearm with repeated activity
  • Tenderness when the area is touched
  • Swelling around your wrist

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine you. You may have X-rays or other scans.

How is it treated?

You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until the tendon has healed. For example, you may need to run instead of play racquet sports.

Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you heal.

A splint or tape that keeps your wrist or thumb from moving may help. Ask your provider about this.

The pain often gets better within a few weeks with self-care, but some injuries may take several months or longer to heal. It’s important to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions.

How can I take care of myself?

To keep swelling down and help relieve pain:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Do ice massage. To do this, first freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the painful area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
  • Keep your wrist up on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, you should not take this medicine for more than 10 days.

Moist heat may help relieve pain, relax your muscles, and make it easier to move your wrist. Put moist heat on the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Moist heat includes heat patches or moist heating pads that you can buy at most drugstores, a warm wet washcloth, or a hot shower. To prevent burns to your skin, follow directions on the package and do not lie on any type of hot pad. Don’t use heat if you have swelling.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid, including how much you can lift, and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent wrist tendon injuries?

Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. If your arm or wrist hurts after exercise, putting ice on it may help keep it from getting injured.

Follow safety rules and use any protective equipment recommended for your work or sport.

Avoid activities that cause pain--for example, throwing, hitting a tennis ball, and typing.

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Published by RelayHealth.
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