Can physical therapy help with wrist tendonitis?

Wrist Pain

I have had mild tendonitis in my right wrist for almost a year now, and I’ve been out of work for six months of that. However, the rate of healing has been slow. I have discussed it with a local doctor and orthopedist and they both have sort of shrugged and said that all I can do is wait, with no indication of a prognosis. It has seriously damaged my quality of life and I do worry about overworking it. They have not even recommended any motions or stretches to do on my own. The pain can be described as a light burning on the front or back of my wrist through use, and an ever so slight tingling often. I do not lose any grip strength or feeling in the fingers. Does this sound like something physical therapy can help? Do you have any advice?

Disclaimer: Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

Things to Know

  • Rest alone is insufficient for preventing symptoms of tendonitis in the wrist.
  • Full tendon rehabilitation requires a specific and targeted program.
  • Properly diagnosis and appropriate treatment of tendinitis can lead to a full recovery.
  • Physical therapists have the education, expertise and experience to help.

We are sorry to hear about your wrist pain and are glad you reached out to us. Without doing an examination to better understand what’s contributing to your wrist pain we are not able to comment at length on your specific condition. However, we can discuss some general principles around tendonitis issues and the rehabilitation process.

The first phase, and perhaps the most important one of tendon rehabilitation, involves resting and protecting the inflamed tendon. This can include wearing a brace/splint, avoiding aggravating activities, and incorporating light stretching and strengthening exercises.

The goal is that within 10-14 days after initiating this protective phase the tendon irritation will have calmed down some. This sets up the next phase of rehab, which engages in greater isolated strengthening and loading activities to the tendon that’s been the source of irritation.

Once strength has improved, rehab will then begin to focus on more functional tasks, such as during work activities, to help mimic daily stresses and prep the muscle-tendon unit for the demands it will encounter.

If a specific and targeted rehabilitation program isn’t incorporated it’s possible for the tendon to either remain inflamed or to go back and forth between progressing and then regressing back to the inflammatory phase. Rest alone is likely insufficient for either full healing or preventing symptoms from returning down the road.

Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts who are trained to diagnose and treat tendinitis conditions.

If properly diagnosed and appropriately treated, cases of tendinitis should generally have a full recovery. We are sorry that this has impacted your quality of life and would recommend scheduling an evaluation by a physical therapist to help identify what’s contributing to your wrist pain and help you navigate the rehabilitation process.

physical therapist works with a patient to assess an injury to the arm and shoulder

Wrists are important! Let us help you with your recovery.

From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, as physical therapists our passion is to help every patient live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!

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