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Wrist Tendon Injury

(En español, presione aquí)

 What is a wrist tendon injury?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How can I take care of myself?
 How can I help prevent wrist tendon injuries?

Wrist Tendon Injury: Illustration
Wrist Tendon Injury: IllustrationClick here to view a full size picture.

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:

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

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:

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:

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.

healthinformatics info

Reference Sources:

DeLee, Jesse C., David Drez, and Mark D. Miller, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice, Saunders; 3rd ed. 2009.

Greene, Walter B., M.D., Griffin, Letha Y. (Ed), Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed. Amer Academy of Orthopaedic. 2010.

Kisner, Carol, and Lynn Colby, Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques, F. A. Davis Company; 6th ed, 2012.

Lichtman, David M. Ulnar-Sided Wrist Pain. Medscape. Web. Updated Feb. 10, 2012. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1245322-overview.

Mellion, Morris B., W. Michael Walsh, Christopher Madden, Margot Putukian, and Guy L. Shelton, The Team Physician's Handbook, Hanley & Belfus; 3 ed, 2001.

Micheli, Lyle J. and Mark Jenkins, The Sports Medicine Bible: Prevent, Detect, and Treat Your Sports Injuries Through the Latest Medical Techniques, HarperCollins, 1995.

Schepsis, Anthony, A., and Busconi, Brian D., Sports Medicine, Lippincott Williams & Wilkens, 2006.


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Last Modified: 2013-09-12

Last Reviewed: 2012-08-17

Website Updated: March 2014

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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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