Tenosynovitis: Inflammation in the Hands and Feet

Because the condition can become severely debilitating, it's important that we know how to identify the symptoms of tenosynovitis as soon as possible in order to get an early diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

The name may sound a little strange, but in reality, it’s a problem that many of our readers will become familiar with at some point in their lives.

Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the lining of the protective sheath that surrounds the tendon. It’s painful, debilitating and is centralized in the hands and feet.

It may occur as sudden swelling of the skin and redness of the skin may occur as well. Despite not having suffered any injury, the pain is intense and debilitating, even when at rest.

Experts tells us that it’s important to obtain an early diagnosis. This will prevent the inflammation from further damaging the tendons and their sheaths and causing even further problems.

If you are experiencing discomfort, consult a specialist. Below, we’ll give you all the essential facts on tenosynovitis.

Tenosynovitis: debilitating joint pain

In order to understand what tenosynovitis is, let’s take a look at a tendon. This perfect structure anchors the muscles in our hands to the bone.

The tendon is covered in a sheath, the sinovial membrane, which protects and isolates the tendons. This is precisely where the inflammation and pain occurs.

What’s immediately noticeable about tenosynovitis is that it affects the flexor muscles, which means the first symptoms of this condition occur when moving the hands or walking.

It begins as slight discomfort, but gradually it develops into inflammation, swelling and even fever.


Who is at risk for tenosynovitis?

Tenosynovitis of the upper extremities tends to affect women more. Also, those who play sports or work in manual labor, like tailors, butchers and even dentists also suffer from tenosynovitis.

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What are the symptoms of tenosynovitis?

  • Pain in the wrist, ankle, sole of the foot, or heel.
  • Redness or swelling that lasts for days. When this happens, the pain occurs even at rest.
  • Fingers and toes “creak” when moving.
  • Small bumps may appear on the fingers and toes due to infection.
  • Manipulating objects, walking, and doing daily tasks takes a lot of effort and causes a lot of discomfort.


What causes tenosynovitis?

The main causes of inflammation of the synovial sheath are repetitive movements of the hands and feet, as well as poor posture which many do without realizing.

Every one of these repetitive and continuous movements causes excessive friction between the tendon and bone to which it’s attached. Repetitive movement and small injuries to the sheath that surrounds the tendon can gradually lead to inflammation. 

De Quervain syndrome

One of the most common injuries associated with tenosynovitis is De Quervain syndrome.

De Quervain syndrome is painful inflammation of the tendons in the thumbs.

  • Everyday tasks like picking up a small child, sewing, typing or even playing the piano can cause this type of tenosynovitis.
  • It can also result from physical injury to the thumb, such as a small, imperceptible tear in the tendon. It may be painful, but as time passes this tissue scars.
  • This scar tissue can prevent the tendon from properly functioning. This is something to keep in mind that can also cause De Quervain syndrome.


Treatment for chronic tenosynovitis

The main goal of treatment for tenosynovitis is to reduce the inflammation. Your doctor will discuss the best course of treatment for you.

Combining drugs with physical rehabilitation is the most common course of treatment.

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  • You must keep the hand or foot immobile for a few days with a splint or bandage.
  • Hot and cold therapy is also effective.
  • Soaking the affected area in a warm bath of rosemary water will relax the muscles and relieve inflammation.
  • Ginger tea is also highly recommended. It reduces pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy is a tremendous aid for treating tenosynovitis. You’ll also learn exercises that you can do at home to restore strength and mobility.

These basic treatments are to reduce stress and pressure on the tendons.

Finally, it’s important to remember that tenosynovitis can recur, so you’ll need to pay attention to your posture and movements.

Seek professional treatment, avoid overworking and remember that your joints and tendons are amazing structures that need more care than you think.