Spotlight on Tenosynovitis

Spotlight on Tenosynovitis

One of the many conditions that an orthopedic doctor can treat is tenosynovitis. It affects the sheaths that surround the body’s tendons. The tendons are the fibrous cords that connect muscles to bones. Each tendon is covered by a synovium—the clinical term for the protective sheath. In patients with tenosynovitis, the synovium becomes inflamed. One common type of tenosynovitis, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, specifically affects the tendon on the thumb side of the wrist.

Signs and Symptoms

Patients with tenosynovitis typically experience pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may worsen when moving the affected joint. The joint itself will become inflamed and swollen. Occasionally, tenosynovitis can be caused by an infection. In this situation, patients might also develop fever and redness.

Patients with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in particular will typically develop pain and swelling at the base of the thumb. They may experience a “sticking” or “stop and go” sensation when moving the thumb. It will become difficult to do activities such as grasping and pinching with the thumb. If left untreated, it’s likely that these symptoms will worsen.

Causes and Risk Factors

Tenosynovitis is often an overuse injury. People who repeat the same motions multiple times in a day, day after day, are at a higher risk of developing this condition. This is because repetitive motions can irritate the synovium, resulting in thickening and swelling. Other possible causes of tenosynovitis include a direct injury to the area that results in scar tissue development, inflammatory arthritis, and an infection. Women are more likely to develop tenosynovitis than men, in part because pregnancy and the repetitive motions associated with baby care are linked to tenosynovitis.

Treatment Options

Treatment should start as soon as possible. Tenosynovitis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, ice and heat therapy, splinting and immobilization, and physical therapy. Occasionally, surgery may be recommended.

If you need specialized orthopedic care for tenosynovitis or another condition, you can turn to the expert team at Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute. They offer world-class medicine with an emphasis on delivering a positive patient experience. You can call their office in Steamboat Springs, CO, at (970) 879-6663 to request an appointment.