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Girl doing wrist tendonitis exercise

Wrist Tendonitis Exercises and Stretches

Dec 28, 2023

The thick fibrous cords that connect muscle to the bone are called tendons, and when they get inflamed and irritated, the condition is called tendonitis. Due to natural movement and anatomic features, your wrist has a high chance of developing this condition.

Still, what exactly causes this condition, how is it treated, and, most importantly, what wrist tendonitis exercises and stretches can you do to help lessen the impact of this condition? Let’s dive in and find out!

Causes of wrist pain

There are many different causes of tendonitis in the wrist; the five most common causes are:

  • Repetitive movements: Typing, playing musical instruments, or manual labor. Anything where you strain your wrist tendons may cause this condition.
  • Inadequate ergonomics: There’s a reason why so many workplaces spend so much money on workshops teaching you how to sit properly and how to position your hands while working. Poor positioning will stress the tendons, which may grow into tendonitis.
  • Sports and hobbies: Any sport that involves a lot of wrist movement, like golf, table tennis, or even weight lifting, may cause your wrists to be strained beyond belief.
  • Age: As you age, your tendons may become more susceptible to wear and tear (like any other body part).
  • Trauma: If you have a direct-impact injury, your tendon may become very inflamed very quickly.

Also, remember that when it comes to sports, people who skip warm-ups and have improper technique have the highest risk of developing this condition.

Wrist tendonitis vs. carpal tunnel 

One condition that wrist tendonitis is often confused with is carpal tunnel. They both affect the wrist and the hand, with the difference that CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome) happens because of the compression of the median nerve, while tendonitis is the inflammation of tendons. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the main complaint is numbness and tingling or pins and needles. Tendonitis does not normally have any numbness.

How do I know if my wrist pain is serious? 

The first indicator that your wrist needs more attention is the amount of severe pain. Everyone has a different level of pain tolerance, but if the pain is debilitating, you need someone to look into it as soon as possible.

The same goes for the inability to move or use your wrist. If it gets so limiting that you can’t function, it might be serious enough to have it checked.

Another symptom that will reassure you that you have something to worry about is the fact that it’s getting worse with time or use.

The last thing worth mentioning is that it's always best to have it checked. Even if only to have a professional to reassure you that it’s nothing to worry about.

Wrist tendonitis treatment

There are several ways you can treat wrist tendonitis. For instance, when it comes to wrist tendonitis treatment at home, you can rest, apply ice on it, compress the wrist, and keep it elevated. You can also use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs if nothing else works.

As far as medical-assisted treatment goes, after the doctor examines you, depending on your condition, you may be referred to physical therapy or occupational therapy. A corticosteroid injection is usually very helpful for this. A doctor will also probably suggest that you drop or alter the habit that caused this issue. In some cases, this includes occupational adjustments such as a splint or a brace.

In a scenario where all conservative treatments have failed, and the condition is severe, it may be time to see an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the surgical release of the tendon.

Overall, it’s the surgeon who’ll make the suggestion, and you would be wise to heed their advice. 

How to strengthen tendons in the wrist?

There are numerous wrist tendonitis exercises that could help you alleviate pain and strengthen your tendons so that this condition doesn’t repeat in the future.

These exercises include grip strength exercises, wrist circles with resistance, and finger and thumb exercises. The biggest problem with these exercises is that they’re as glamorous as squats, deadlifts, or bicep curls. Also, if you do suffer from wrist conditions, they could be life-altering. Describing these exercises well enough for you to perform them correctly is difficult. As such it would behoove you to seek the advice of an orthopedic wrist doctor or a therapist to teach the exercises to you. If you demonstrate good technique, then you can do them at home as part of a Home Exercise Program. 

What are good stretches for wrist tendonitis?

While we discussed the reasons for wrist tendonitis, we’ve also mentioned that people who skip the warm-up tend to feel more wrist pain. Stretching before and after using your wrists (long computer use, guitar playing, or table tennis sessions) could help more than you think. Here are some of the best wrist tendonitis exercises to help you stretch.

Extending your arm in front of you with your palm facing up and using your opposite hand to gently bend your wrist downward by applying light pressure on your fingers is the first thing you should do. Then, do the opposite, extend your hand palm down, and gently push your fingers downward with your opposite hand. Do this for 15-30 seconds with each hand. This will stretch your wrist flexor and extensor tendons.

You can also make wrist circles (10-15 circles in each direction with each hand). Lastly, you can stretch your wrists against the wall.

When done right, all of this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.

Wrap up

Wrist tendonitis exercises can help alleviate pain and strengthen the surrounding structures to lessen the pressure on your tendons. Stretches can help you warm up and avoid injury; there’s never a reason to skip them. This is especially the case for people who already suffer from this condition.

Find a wrist tendonitis specialist at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.