How is Tenosynovitis Treated?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the sheath which surrounds a tendon. It has a number of causes, and treatments primarily focus on resting the affected limb and bringing the swelling down. There are also a number of steps which patients can take to reduce the risk of tenosynovitis. Avoiding the condition is preferable, since it can be painful and potentially disabling if it is not handled properly.

Before exploring treatment options, it can help to understand tenosynovitis. It happens when the protective sheath which surrounds a tendon becomes inflamed, swelling to prevent the tendon from moving freely. Someone with a case of tenosynovitis may have difficulty moving a limb, and a crackling sound may be heard in the area as the tendon is flexed. In a severe case, the condition will cause a limb or finger to lock, in a condition known as trigger finger. If you spot early signs of tenosynovitis, see a doctor, because the condition is easier to treat when it is caught early.

Strain is one of the primary causes of tenosynovitis, especially strain through repetitive motion. The condition can also be caused by buildups of calcium, or through conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout. You may be at risk for tenosynovitis if you work in an industry associated with repetitive stress, and you should make sure that you take care of your body in this case. Repetitive strain can cause other health conditions as well.


Patients who are diagnosed with tenosynovitis will usually be told to start with a regimen of rest, ice, compression, and elevation to begin with. If caught early, this may resolve the problem. If the tenosynovitis is accompanied with severe swelling or pain, anti-inflammatory drugs may be used. Most doctors start out with non-steroidal drugs, moving to corticosteroids and cortisone injections as needed. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to reduce the pressure of the sheath on the tendon.

It is very important to fully rest after a case of tenosynovitis. If any trace of the inflammation still exists when the limb is used again, it can bring on a severe case which may be difficult to treat. Patients may also be advised to take several physical therapy sessions to condition the limb and learn to use it safely. Although it can be frustrating to rest with an immobilized limb, patients should resist the temptation to move the limb, as they do not want to face recurring tenosynovitis, since it can become painful and debilitating.


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