Symptoms of Wrist Tendonitis

The symptoms of wrist tendonitis and other tendon problems depend on the severity of the injury. Sometimes, chronic tendon injury may intensify over time, resulting in acute pain.1 Usually, the discomfort is spread within an area, rather than a specific point in the wrist.2

Common Symptoms of Wrist Tendonitis

Swelling, pain, stiffness, and muscle fatigue are all common symptoms of wrist tendonitis.

Common symptoms of wrist tendonitis may include one or more of the following:

  • Pain. Wrist tendonitis pain usually develops over a period of time and may be felt as a burning sensation, a sharp stabbing pain, or a constant dull ache. In some cases, the pain may extend up to the elbow or down to the fingers. Touching or gently pressing the affected tendon may also cause pain.
  • Reduced strength. A feeling of weakness in the wrist and forearm area may be experienced while using the affected arm to do physical work. Sometimes, pain may start after doing a physical activity, and in other cases, the pain may remain constant or increase during an activity.
  • Inability to bear weight. Reduced strength in the wrist may cause weight-bearing actions to be painful. For example, push-ups, lifting and/or throwing heavy objects, and even pushing on armrests to get out of a chair may cause wrist pain.
  • Swelling. Tendon inflammation may cause the tendon and nearby tissues to swell, resulting in swelling of the wrist. In some cases, the swelling may extend to the hand or forearm. (Forearm or hand swelling usually occurs when a muscle is also injured and/or inflamed.)
  • Stiffness. Tendon swelling may cause mild to moderate stiffness of the tendon. This stiffness may cause reduced range of motion in the wrist.3
  • Muscle fatigue and cramping. In cases where the injury extends to the corresponding muscle of the tendon, muscle fatigue may occur. Muscle cramps and spasms may also be experienced.
  • Tearing, popping, or snapping. A tearing feeling may occur on the movement of the wrist joint. This feeling is due to tendons rubbing against muscles and is also called crepitus.4 Sometimes, a snapping or popping sensation may occur.
  • Bruising and warmth. Tearing of tiny blood vessels may cause the skin over the affected tendon to appear red, blue, or black. This phenomenon is called bruising or contusion. Increased blood flow to the area may also result in a feeling of warmth in the affected wrist and parts of the hand and/or forearm.

Sometimes, pain and other discomfort may return on activity even after the affected wrist is rested, or after the use of pain-relieving medications.5 Everyday activities such as turning door knobs, shaking hands, or lifting objects may be painful.

Less Common Symptoms of Wrist Tendonitis

Some less common symptoms of wrist tendonitis may include:

  • Pain at rest. In advanced stages of wrist tendonitis, a person may experience constant wrist pain, even at rest.5
  • Numbness. In cases where the affected tendon pinches on or irritates an adjacent nerve, numbness in one or more fingers may occur. This may lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.6
  • Loss of motion. Although rare in the wrist joint, calcium deposits in the tendons may lead to tendon hardening. This condition, known as calcific tendonitis, may cause severe stiffness and pain. Sometimes, a low-grade fever may also occur in calcific tendonitis of the wrist.7
  • Depression and anxiety. In some people with wrist tendon pain, decreased pain tolerance may cause depression. Avoiding physical work in anticipation of pain may further result in anxiety, irritability, and frustration.8

In tendonitis resulting from a sudden force such as an accident or acute trauma, fracture of bones, nerve damage, and/or ligament injury may also occur. A medical professional can help diagnose and treat wrist tendonitis and other wrist injuries.

See What to Do When a Wrist Injury Occurs


Wrist Tendinosis Symptoms

Wrist tendinosis shares certain symptoms with tendonitis, such as pain, stiffness, and reduced strength.9 Tendinosis results when a tendon is repetitively injured without time to heal. Chronic tendonitis usually progresses to tendinosis.

See What Is the Difference Between Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Tendinopathy?


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