How To Recognize The Signs Of Wrist Tendonitis

December 16, 2022

blonde woman holding painful wrist tendonitis

If you’ve ever experienced pain in your hand, you might understand just how much it can interfere with your daily life. From restricted movement to recurring pain or swelling, getting to the bottom of your discomfort can instantly improve your quality of life.

For areas of your body that are particularly important for movement, such as the wrist, treating the source of your pain can feel even more time sensitive. Not only do you want to reduce pain, you also want to avoid further damage.

At our pain management clinic in Annapolis, MD, we see a lot of patients suffering from wrist pain that has been left untreated. This is a scenario we want to help you avoid by ensuring you know which conditions to look out for.

To get you started, our pain management experts are here with the advice you need to spot the signs and symptoms of wrist tendonitis, as well as advising on the treatment options available.

Let’s jump straight in shall we?

What is wrist tendonitis?

For many of our patients, pain in the wrist is caused by tendonitis. Tendonitis occurs when your tendons become inflamed or swollen. This is usually due to injury or strained movement, but can also be due to other factors (some of which we’ll discuss later!).

Tendons are classified as ‘fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone’. In general, they are quite resistant to tearing, but unfortunately, are not very stretchy. This is why in areas such as the wrist where repetitive movement is used, your tendons can be highly susceptible to injury.

The exact number of main tendons in your body will depend on your size and makeup, but just going into your hand, most people have:

  • Nine flexor tendons
  • 12 extensor tendons

As well as wrist tendonitis, thumb tendonitis is quite common amongst patients at our Annapolis pain management clinic. Sometimes called ‘De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis’, thumb tendonitis affects the tendons running along the thumb side of the wrist, causing pain, swelling, or reduced range of movement at the base of the thumb.

For both wrist tendonitis and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, a wide range of treatment options are available. This is something our pain management specialists are well-versed in providing.

Can your Annapolis pain management experts tell me what causes wrist tendonitis?

There can be several causes of tendonitis in your wrist or hand. Just some of the risk factors include:

Sudden injury

As mentioned, tendonitis is commonly triggered by a sudden tendon injury that causes inflammation and painful swelling. While tendonitis is not limited to the wrist, it regularly occurs in this area due to sudden or sharp movements associated with wrist activity.

Repetitive movements

Another cause of wrist tendonitis is repetitive motions. This can occur over a long or short period of time with chronic, intermittent, and temporary discomfort all possible. This particular cause of wrist tendonitis is often seen in people with jobs or hobbies that involve heavy use of their hands.


Tendonitis in the wrist can occur at any age. However, advancing age is definitely considered to be a risk factor. As we age, our tendons become less flexible and more susceptible to injury, with aggravated tendons a more likely occurrence.

That said, at Annapolis Pain Management, we also get younger patients coming to see us with tendonitis that has developed both slowly and more rapidly.

Because injury to even one wrist tendon can cause pain or wrist weakness, our clinic is regularly attended by younger patients who notice inflamed tendons or stiffness while playing sports.

Before I visit your pain management specialists in Maryland, what symptoms of wrist tendonitis should I look out for?

Because everyone is at risk of developing tendonitis in the wrist, hand, or fingers — it’s good to know what signs and symptoms to look out for.

While everyone’s symptoms will present differently and may require a unique approach to treatment, some of the most common signs of wrist tendonitis we’ve observed include:

  • Pain and swelling that starts in the wrist but can radiate towards the elbow (or occasionally down to the fingers)
  • Wrist stiffness
  • Reduced motion in the wrist/hand
  • A decrease in your ability to grip everyday items
  • Tenderness around the wrist joint
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Cracking sounds in the wrist joint

What’s the difference between wrist tendonitis and carpal tunnel?

Due to the similarity between the two conditions, many people confuse wrist tendonitis with carpal tunnel. However, they are in fact two separate conditions.

The main difference between wrist tendonitis and carpal tunnel is where your pain or discomfort originates — something a physical exam will be able to assess.


As discussed, pain associated with wrist tendonitis is usually caused by inflammation. Pain can therefore radiate as the inflammation spreads but will be most tender directly around the affected area. In the case of wrist tendonitis, this is usually quite apparent when pressure is applied to the wrist area.

Carpal tunnel

Often associated with manual labor or those working in office jobs (but not exclusive to these individuals), pain associated with carpal tunnel is caused by median nerve compression.

This is why carpal tunnel will mostly affect the palm side of your wrist and can cause numbness or tingling throughout your hand and fingers. Unlike tendonitis, carpal tunnel does not affect the tendons.

While both conditions are likely to cause chronic pain if not treated correctly, they may require a slightly different approach to pain management. This can be assessed by a professional upon diagnosis. For both conditions, immediate action can be taken to reduce inflammation and discomfort.

How can I avoid developing wrist tendonitis?

While some people will automatically opt for exercises to improve movement in their wrist joints, professional advice should always be sought before undertaking these exercises. Without expert guidance, certain movements can make wrist tendonitis worse.

In general, some tips for reducing your chance of developing wrist tendonitis include:

  • Improving your range of wrist movement (for those with jobs or hobbies that involve repetitive wrist movements, this is particularly important)
  • Stretching your wrist joint before strenuous activities (under the guidance of a professional)
  • Avoiding activities that might place undue pressure on your wrist tendon without adequate preparation
  • Becoming even more aware of your joints as you age and reducing risk wherever possible
  • Taking frequent breaks and resting your wrist during activities that requires repetitive movement

If I’m based in Annapolis or Maryland, how is wrist tendonitis treated?

Wrist tendonitis treatment will depend on the severity of your condition and the events that led to your diagnosis. That said, it is almost always possible to alleviate wrist tendonitis with the right care.

In most cases, treatment for tendonitis in the wrist, hand, fingers, or thumb will consist of:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain Relief injections (incl. non-surgical tendon injections and hyaluronic acid injections)
  • Splinting or support bandages
  • Non-surgical pain relief
  • Ice or heat therapy (to reduce swelling or increase blood flow)

Tendon injections work by injecting a local anesthetic and/or anti-inflammatory medicine around the muscle tendons; it not only helps relieve any pain that is related to the tendon (tendinitis, tendinopathy etc) but also helps to address any pain associated with the adjacent muscle. For patients looking for more natural treatments we also offer a homeopathic injectable solution.

If you’re based in the Annapolis, Maryland area, the good news is that a full range of treatment options are available at our pain management clinic. While recovery time will vary for each patient, medical conditions such as tendonitis tend to respond well to treatment plans.

Can Annapolis Pain Management in Maryland help with other pain-related issues?

Our pain management clinic specializes in pain management for all kinds of conditions — without the need for drugs or surgery. With treatment plans available for everything from sciatic nerve pain to migraines, our pain management solutions cover all bases.

With a team of pain management specialists, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, chiropractic providers, and more, we help stop pain from holding you back.

If you’re wondering what exactly we might be able to do for you, you can request a consultation with one of our specialists today. Our team is ready to take on their next pain management challenge and alleviate your symptoms.

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