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Protecting Yourself Against Wrist Tendonitis

January 10, 2006 11:56 AM

By Jim Brown, Ph.D., Executive Editor, Sports Performance Journal, Author, Tennis: Steps to Success

Wrist tendonitis doesn’t get as much attention as tendonitis in the elbow, but it can be just as much of a problem for tennis players. It is a condition in which there is an inflammation of the flexor tendons that pass from the forearm over the wrists to the hands and fingers. It is one of the most common injuries in sports, affecting golfers, weight lifters, baseball players, among others, as well as those who play tennis.

Symptoms
The symptoms develop gradually and include pain, tenderness, swelling, a crackling sensation, and difficulty in gripping objects such as a tennis racket or golf club. You may be able to diagnose and treat wrist tendinitis by yourself, but if the symptoms get worse or last as long as two weeks, see a doctor. If you let it go, the condition can become chronic and may even require surgery.

Treatment
The first thing you should do is stop the activity that causes pain — in your case, playing tennis. Then apply ice 20-30 minutes every three or four hours. When possible, elevate your arm and hand. Take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen to relieve pain and control inflammation.

Recovery time varies with each person and should be determined by the strength and range of motion in the wrist rather than by a certain number of days. Players with minor tendonitis usually recover in 7-10 days. If surgery is necessary, it could take 6-12 weeks before returning to the courts.

Exercises
As soon as the pain subsides, begin a program to strengthen the wrist and increase its range of motion. The four exercises described below are recommended by Lyle Micheli, M.D., author of The Sports Medicine Bible. Start slowly and work up to 15-30 repetitions for each exercise, three times a day.

  • Put your forearm on a table, palm down, and allow your wrist to hang over the edge. Keep your fingers relaxed and bend your hand downward as far as possible, then up.
  • Put your forearm on a table, palms facing in, wrist hanging off the edge. Keep your fingers straight as you turn your hand/palm down as far as possible, then back to the starting position.
  • Put your forearm on a table, palm against the surface. Rotate your forearm and wrist so that the back of your hand touches the table.
  • Rotate your wrist in a circle, then change directions and rotate again.

© 2005 HMS Publishing, Inc.
Jim Brown will be contributing new content to this site on a monthly basis. If you have a question for Dr. Brown please feel free to email him at
sportsmed@mindspring.com.

 

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