Treatment and Physical Therapy for Wrist Tendonitis: Exercises and Techniques

Tendons are thick collagen cords connecting muscles to bones. They play an important role in controlling the movement of the wrists, fingers, and hands. However, when these tendons become inflamed, it can cause pain and stiffness, a condition known as wrist tendonitis. The exact cause of this condition is difficult to determine but can often result from excessive strain, repetitive motion, or infection.

Wrist tendonitis can be incredibly painful and limit your ability to perform simple daily activities. However, several treatment options are available, including physical therapy exercises and techniques to help manage the condition and reduce pain.

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in treating and recovering wrist tendonitis. By working with a physical therapist, you can learn exercises and techniques to help alleviate pain, improve your range of motion, and increase strength. These exercises may involve stretching, strengthening, and conditioning the affected tendons and muscles. Keep reading to know how physical therapy is key in wrist tendonitis treatment and recovery. 

Treatment Options for Wrist Tendonitis

The primary goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and speed up healing which might take a few weeks, depending on the severity. Moreover, the approach should decrease the injury effects and promote proper collagen position in the tendon. Upon diagnosis with wrist tendinitis, treatment should be initiated with simple approaches as follows. 

  • Rest and Immobilization

Resting and immobilising the affected wrists is the natural healing method for tendinitis. Even though it is completely impossible to use your hands, ensure to cut back on the activities that cause excess strain on them. 

You can take frequent breaks between activities and find another way to do the same task without exerting pressure on the wrists. In addition, you can use braces and slings to avoid sudden movement. 

  • Medications

As the primary symptom of wrist tendonitis is pain, pain relievers are generally prescribed. On the other hand, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are also suggested by physicians, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and aprons, to achieve short-term pain relief. Ensure to take the drugs with caution and instructions given to avoid potential adverse side effects. 

  • Surgery 

Surgery is rarely recommended and only for severe cases when the symptoms don’t improve with conservative approaches. It is used to treat severe chronic and recurrence of damage and inflammation in the wrist’s tendons. In most cases, a surgical procedure will be minimally invasive with quick recovery time and a low risk of complications or side effects. 

  • Physical Therapy for Wrist Tendonitis

The irritation and inflammation of the tendons often cause difficulty in using the hands for gripping, grasping, and other fine motor activities like typing and writing. Research shows that physical therapy for wrist tendonitis will improve the function of your wrist. 

Exercise combined with manual therapy reduces the stiffness in the muscles surrounding the inflamed tendon. The program will be specifically designed to improve muscle function through various movement patterns. In a nutshell, the structured exercise and stretching program will help you to return to normal activities and improve the quality of your life. 

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion exercise in physical therapy can be a potential antidote to healing stiffness and soreness due to tendonitis in the wrist. When carefully planned, these movements can address the condition’s root cause and help you get back to your normal life promptly.

  • Wrist Flexion and Extension Exercises

Wrist flexion and extension exercise is a low-impact movement that will increase your range of motion and prevent the risk of injury in the wrists. It also promotes grip strength by engaging the forearm muscles.

  • Radial and Ulnar Deviation Exercises

Radial and ulnar deviation exercise is the movement of the wrist joints to improve mobility. Radial deviation or flexion is the pattern of bringing the thumbs closer to the radial bone in the forearm. In contrast, ulnar deviation draws the little finger ulnar bone in the forearm. 

  • Pronation and Supination Exercises

Pronation and supination exercises for wrists strengthen the joints and improve mobility. It will allow you to gain control over your forearm and wrists without placing too much stress on the joints. 

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercise allows you to lengthen the muscles when contracting due to a movement. These exercises in physical therapy induce the production of collagen in the muscles. Also, it properly aligns the position of collagen in the tendon, improving the strength and preventing further injuries. 

  • Wrist Curls

Wrist curls are an effective strengthening exercise focusing on muscles in the forearm. Studies have proved that exercise can increase the strength and endurance of your muscles, speeding up recovery and improving performance.

  • Pronation and Supination Resistance Exercises

Both supination flexor muscles in the forearm are involved in the pronation and supination resistance exercises to improve mobility and flexibility. This movement also focuses on the strength of the muscles in the wrist and shoulder.

  • Grip Strengthening Exercises

Grip-strengthening exercises will help you relieve pain from tendonitis and build a stronger grip. It also enhances the functional mobility patterns of your wrist by stabilising the extensors of the forearm.

Stretching Exercises

Wrist tendonitis has micro-adhesions in the tendon that restrict movement and lead to inflammation. Therefore starching exercises could be the best treatment that extends the tendon to break down the adhesion. 

  • Wrist Flexor and Extensor Stretches

Stretching the wrist extensors, and flexors can effectively heal wrist tendinitis. It targets carpi radialis brevis, carpi ulnaris, digitorum communis and radialis longus to activate the active mobility of your wrists.

  • Radial and Ulnar Deviation Stretches

A semicircle movement from the thumb to the little finger is called deviation stretch. The direction towards the radius bone is radial stretches, and towards the ulna is an ulnar deviation performed to release the muscle stress.

  • Pronator and Supinator Stretches

Wrist pronator, and supinator stretches are beneficial for preventing injury and accelerating recovery from tendinitis by elongating the tight muscles and reducing stress and stiffness in the wrist joints.

Manual Therapy Techniques

Manual therapy is a structured approach to treating tendinitis that involves various techniques in a single framework. It focuses on moving your tendons and joints in a way that soothes pain and induces healing.

  • Soft Tissue Mobilization

Soft tissue mobilization works by optimising the tendons to break down the scar tissues. It will also eliminate the toxic substances from the injured area to speed up the healing process and increase flexibility.

  • Joint Mobilisation

Joint mobilisation involves adding manual pressure to a specific area to improve the overall function of your wrists. It is also performed to reduce the compression and stretch the soft tissue around the injured area.

Conclusion

Wrist tendinitis will make it challenging to move your wrist, hand, and fingers. Even though it is an acute condition, when left unnoticed, it will cause consistent damage to the tendon and cause severe inflammation. Therefore, breaking the cycle and inducing the repair process as soon as possible is important. 

If you are experiencing any relevant symptoms to the condition, it is important to consult with an orthopaedic specialist for an early and accurate diagnosis. It will allow you to create an individualised plan that may include rest, ice therapy, medication, and physical therapy to restore mobility and confidence.

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