Developed by

Tenosynovitis in the Wrist

Tendovaginitis (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Tenosynovitis is due to an overload of the wrist and usually disappears by itself within a few weeks. You must try to relieve your hand. The doctor can prescribe painkillers, refer to physiotherapy and give an inject into the wrist. For several months pain, an orthopedic surgeon may perform an operation.

Tenosynovitis in the wrist is frequent in adults. Tenosynovitis is due to an overload of the wrist during repeated movements and is seen, for example, in slaughterhouse workers, cleaning staff and in women with small children. 

The pain occurs a few days after the overload and is described as a throb in the wrist that can radiate into the thumb. The pain is exacerbated when using the hand - especially when squeezing something or lifting a heavy object. Some people therefore have trouble drinking from a glass or even drop things. 

On the upper side of the wrist there may be a slight swelling which is sore. 

In most cases, the pain disappears by itself without treatment within a few weeks, if only the hand is relieved.


What can you do?

As it is an overload, you should avoid activities and strains that cause pain. At your work, you can try to change your work routines, but for some it is impossible to avoid strain on the hand. Most people, however, manage their work with adjustments. At the pharmacy you can buy support straps that support the hand and prevent overload. They usually take 2-3 weeks before the pain is gone. 

For pain you can try painkillers bought over the counter.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the pain does not disappear within a few days despite the relief and use of painkillers or if the pain is aggravated by your work. The doctor can advise on relief, prescribe pain medication and refer to a physiotherapist. 

If after treatment with the physiotherapist you still have pain, an injection of adrenal gland hormone may be needed in the wrist. The effect occurs within a few days and lasts for a few weeks. It is important that you avoid too much strain on the wrist. 

If your pain continues despite the above treatment, surgery may be required. Your doctor may refer you.