The wrist is an intricate structure that allows us to do many things with our hands. It’s made up of multiple bones, tendons, and ligaments that work together to enable you to perform various tasks efficiently. Whether writing, typing, playing sports, or playing the piano, it allows for a wide range of motion and provides stability to your hand.
Sometimes, we use our wrists too much without thinking, which can compromise our health conditions. From general aches and pains to tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other severe conditions, your wrist is more vulnerable than you think. Wrist tendons can be injured by repetitive motions, stress, strains and sprains, fractures, arthritis, and more.
This post will explain what tendonitis is, how it occurs, and the jobs most at risk for developing it.
What is Tendonitis in the Wrist?
Whenever you hear the suffix “itis,” it describes an inflammation. Tendonitis (also spelled as tendinitis) is the result of an inflamed tendon or tendon sheath — which are the tissues that connect muscles to bones. It typically occurs near the wrist bone, where the tendons cross each other. The condition can lead to pain, swelling in the affected area, wrist weakness, and stiffness.
Wrist tendinitis can be caused by overuse and repetitive movements or tendon injuries — causing painful swelling and tenderness to the wrist joint. It can also be associated with pregnancy, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Usually, wrist tendinitis is common in people who use their wrists a lot at work.
Moreover, wrist tendonitis isn’t isolated to only one part of the wrist; inflamed tendons can be at any of the several tendons surrounding the wrist. For example, a person may suffer de Quervain’s syndrome — a condition characterized by inflammation of two tendons that control the movement of the thumb and wrist. This causes wrist pain and tenderness of forearm muscles near the thumb, especially on the thumb side of the wrist. This worsens the pain when you use your thumb to turn doorknobs or open jars.
Where Are the Most Common Places to Get Tendonitis?
Tendonitis can occur all over the body, but it’s most common in the hands and wrists. You might be familiar with tendonitis if you’ve ever had an injury resulting in pain, swelling, or tenderness in your wrist joint.
Due to repetitive motions when doing things or working, wrist tendons are prone to inflammation. The most common area for inflammation is the outer wrist and thumb (called de Quervain’s disease). This occurs in people who frequently grab or pinch things with the thumb.
To alleviate wrist tendonitis, affected people may rest, apply an ice or heat pack, take an anti-inflammatory medication, wear a splint or brace, or utilize physical or occupational therapy. Lastly, cortisone injections are very helpful at reducing pain and inflammation.
Like the wrist, repetitive motion involving your hand often causes irritation and inflammation of hand tendons attached to the bones of the fingers. This is common for people who play sports (like tennis, baseball, and weight lifting) that involve grasping or gripping objects. The pain associated with tendonitis typically worsens when you use your hands or arms, but sometimes it can also be present when you’re not using them.
Besides operative pain management, people with hand tendinitis use ice packs, splints and braces, cortisone injections, and hand therapy (among others) to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Others may also leverage ultrasound or electrical stimulation to increase blood flow and accelerate healing.
What Are the Top 8 Job Roles That Cause Hand and Wrist Tendonitis?
Wrist tendonitis has been linked to repetitive movement of the hands and wrists. Jobs that involve a lot of data input with slight variations in finger or hand positioning have complaints about tendonitis being logged more often than other jobs. A combination of those criteria has been ranked as having the highest incidences of chronic wrist tendonitis.
If you’re experiencing pain in your hands and wrist tendons, you may want to take a closer look at your job. We’ve compiled a list of the top eight jobs and professions that cause this painful condition.
1. Writer / Journalist / Author
As a writer, journalist, or author, you are more likely to develop hand and wrist tendonitis due to prolonged writing or typing. The repetitive movement of these tasks stresses the tendons, leading to inflammation and pain.
2. Artists / Painters
Artists and painters also had a higher pain in their wrists and elbows than those working at desk jobs or other non-manual labor jobs. This is because they often need to hold their tools for long periods, which stresses the tendons in the hands and arms.
A study published by the National Library of Medicine reveals that hairdressers also risk developing hand and wrist tendonitis, especially in females. This condition is caused by repeated stress on the tendons in the wrist or hand due to the frequent use of scissors and clippers, styling, or applying products.
4. Receptionist or Office Worker
Like the other jobs above, office workers (especially receptionists) spend much time using their hands, mainly when typing or clicking a mouse. This can strain the tendons, causing inflammation and eventually pain and swelling. If you work in an office and notice any symptoms, speak with your physical therapist or doctor about how wrist tendonitis is treated.
Teachers use their hands in various ways, from writing on chalkboards to carrying heavy books, typing on computer keyboards, or marking school books. All these tasks put a lot of pressure on the hands, wrists, and arms, leading to the aggravated tendon. It’s no wonder many people in this profession complain of wrist tendonitis.
6. Sports Professions
According to Br J Sports Med, athletes are susceptible to hand or wrist injury, leading to wrist tendonitis. Depending on the sport, athletes need to grasp a ball or even their opponent (think of rugby). You need to strike the ball directly in your hand for sports such as volleyball or basketball. These situations make an athlete vulnerable to tendon injuries.
7. Construction / Mechanical Repair Workers
As we all know, construction or mechanical repair jobs require heavy lifting, putting pressure on the wrist or thumb joint. Sometimes, these people use their hands to push down on a surface too hard or carry heavy tools, which can cause tendon inflammation and tenderness.
8. Industrial Workers
When you’re working with machinery that requires a lot of fine motor skills (think sewing machines or lathes), you can put too much pressure on your tendon without even realizing it. This could result in symptoms like soreness or pain in your main tendons.
Tips to Prevent Wrist Tendinitis
Treating wrist tendonitis is challenging as you have to take modified tasks or whole rests during the treatment process. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” You’ll want to avoid the condition before it happens. Tendonitis can be painful and debilitating, but it’s easily prevented by taking the following steps:
Take frequent breaks to rest your muscles.
Stretch out your hand regularly throughout the day.
Make it a habit to make your wrist straight or neutral.
Do simple stretching and strengthening exercises to boost grip strength.
Use ergonomic tools, including pencil grips and cushioned mouse pads.
How is Wrist Tendonitis Diagnosed?
When you visit a doctor, they’ll perform a physical exam and ask you questions to help make the diagnosis. They might press on different parts of your forearm muscles, wrist, hand, or fingers to check for swelling or tenderness. They might also ask you to do specific movements so that they can identify the source of pain.
Your health provider might ask you to undergo imaging scans such as X-rays and ultrasounds to verify the condition.
How is Wrist Tendonitis Treated?
It’s essential to keep your hand and wrist healthy, so you can continue enjoying the things you love doing. However, due to the nature of your work, you may not be able to prevent wrist tendonitis from happening. The good news is that tendonitis in the wrist can be treated. Depending on the severity of your condition, you can undergo non-surgical treatment or surgery.
Surgery is recommended when non-surgical treatments such as rest, medicines, braces, physical therapy, and injections fail to reduce pain.
Seek Professional Medical Advice
Your hand or wrist pain is a significant handicap to your work, home life, or even your engagement in your chosen sport or hobby. The experts at Academy Orthopedics will help you get back on the go.
Diagnosis is crucial! Contact us, and let us help you fix your hand and wrist pain. As committed orthopedic surgeons, we aim to treat wrist tendonitis and restore your ability to perform the necessary activities to lead a happy, healthy life.