Hands off! Surgery is often not required for these common conditions

In hand and wrist, pain is often due to use or an underlying condition

Dec 09, 2015, 15:47 ET from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

ROSEMONT, Ill., Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many tendon problems of the hand and wrist are related to chronic degeneration or underlying conditions. Sometimes, a size mismatch between a swollen tendon(s) and the overlying tendon sheath may result in hand pain and functional limits for patients. "Fortunately, most of these conditions respond with nonsurgical treatment options," says Julie E. Adams, MD, lead author of a literature review appearing in the December issue of The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Surgery is sometimes advised if the patient doesn't get better with other treatments."

Common tendon-related conditions of the hand and wrist:

  • Trigger finger, as the name implies, is where the finger can catch, lock or get stuck with bending. This can be painful to the patient and may limit activity. In some cases, the tendon is swollen but doesn't get stuck and the patient may have pain in the palm, which can be made worse when gripping or grasping objects.
  • De Quervain's tendonitis is a condition that affects the tendons in the wrist near the base of the thumb. The tendons can become swollen and irritated, resulting in pain when the patient bends the thumb across the palm toward the small finger. This condition, also known as "texting thumb," occurs in indivdiuals who often lift objects such as babies or laundry baskets, which require moving the wrist from side-to-side, as well as in cross-counry skiers.

"Both of these conditions often get better with nonsurgical treatment such as corticosteroid injections, therapy programs, by activity modifications or rest with splinting," says Dr. Adams, an orthopaedic hand surgeon with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Minnesota.

Patients who experience hand pain may benefit from seeking medical care from a physician or an orthopaedic surgeon to help them understand if their pain is related to a tendon condition and to discuss treatment options.

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Disclosures: Dr. Adams or an immediate family member has received royalties from Biomet; is a member of a speakers' bureau or has made paid presentations on behalf of Arthrex; serves as a paid consultant to Acumed and Articulinx; and serves as a board member, owner, officer, or committee member of the American Association for Hand Surgery, the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the Arthroscopy Association of North America, the Minnesota Orthopaedic Society and the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society. Neither Dr. Habbu nor any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons