What is Tenosynovitis?

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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
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Tenosynovitis is a common problem that causes severe pain in the hand and forearm area. Specifically, the pain can be located on the inner side of the wrist and the forearm region near a person's thumb. The primary cause is inflammation of the two tendons in the thumbs, which causes pain in the thumb and wrist area. It is a very common problem and usually fairly easy to diagnose.

People who develop tenosynovitis usually use their hands and thumbs in the same repeated motion several times a day. Some of the motions that lead to its development are continual pinching, grasping objects repeatedly, squeezing things, or performing a regular wringing motion with the hands and wrists. People who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop this condition.

Symptoms of tenosynovitis include constant soreness in the thumb and wrist area. Over time, if the problem is not treated, the pain can spread further up the wrist and possibly all the way into the thumb. Ultimately, untreated tenosynovitis can make it difficult and almost impossible for the person to pinch, grasp, squeeze, or wring anything without experiencing severe pain. In addition, the pain will worsen over time if nothing is done to alleviate it.


A medical professional should be able to easily diagnose tenosynovitis by evaluating a person's hand, fingers, and wrist. The physical tests he or she performs to diagnose it generally involve simply holding the thumb, manipulating it in different directions, and listening to the patient's feedback. Many times, the symptoms improve without treatment if the aggravating motion is discontinued. In some cases, wearing a splint can also help it heal. In the most severe cases, anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, physical therapy, or surgery may also be part of the treatment and recovery process.


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