Tendonitis Symptoms in Hands

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Tendinitis (also spelt tendinitis) is the inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are the tough cords of tissue attaching muscles and bones. Certain activities and occupations are commonly associated as the cause of hand tendinitis. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety, typing, piano playing, manufacturing, knitting, meat processing and assembly line work can all be causes for a diagnosis of hand tendinitis. Symptoms of hand tendinitis can also result from a variety of conditions, including ganglion cysts, Stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger), De Quervain's Tendinitis and Dupuytren's Disease.


There are various causes associated with each type of hand tendinitis. Ganglion cysts are usually associated with arthritic bone spurs (bony protrusions that develop along the edge of the bone).

Although the causes are unclear, stenosing tenosynovitis is known to be present with medical conditions such as diabetes, gout and rheumatoid arthritis. On occasion, local trauma may also be a factor, but there is still no clear cause in most cases.

DeQuervain's Tendinitis is caused by starting new or repetitive activities. This is common with new mothers carrying their infants, which often creates uncomfortable hand positions. A wrist fracture can also be a cause because this increases stress across the tendons.

Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are lumps adjacent to the joints or tendons and are commonly located in the hand or wrist. There are no common symptoms, but these cysts may or may not cause pain. Although the cause is unknown, they form mainly due to joint or tendon irritation. A ganglion cyst resembles a water balloon on a stalk and is filled with gel or clear fluid. These cysts in the hand are located at the top of the end joint of the finger or at the base of the finger on the palm side.

Stenosing Tenosynovitis

Stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger or trigger thumb) relates to the tendons and pulleys in the hand that bend the fingers. With stenosing tenosynovitis, the pulley becomes too thick and constricting around the tendon, which makes it hard for the tendon to move freely. This condition starts with a feeling of discomfort and can cause a vicious cycle of triggering, swelling and inflammation, and sometimes causes the finger to become locked, making it hard to bend or straighten.

De Quervain's Disease

De Quervain's disease (first dorsal compartment tendinitis) is inflammation of the tendons at the base of the thumb, which causes enlargement, irritation and swelling in the compartment around the tendon. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the main symptom for De Quervain's disease is pain over the thumb side of the wrist which may progress suddenly or gradually and can be increased by hand and thumb motion. An occasional snapping or catching may occur when moving the thumb, with possible swelling, which may include a fluid-filled cyst in the region of the thumb.


In all types of hand tendinitis, the ultimate goal is to relieve any pain or swelling. This may require various types of treatments. Most treatments are non-surgical. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used to reduce inflammation or pressure. Resting the hand, using a splint and reducing activities irritating the aggravated area are also common methods of treatment.

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