Tenosynovitis is when the lining of the protective sheath surrounding a tendon (called a synovium) becomes inflamed. Tendons are the structures that join muscle to bone.

Causes Of Tenosynovitis

Tenosynovitis results from chronic inflammation of the synovium (the protective sheath that covers tendons.) The underlying cause of this inflammation can be unknown in many cases. However, in other cases, the chronic inflammation may be caused by tendons with the following problems:

  • Strain
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Overuse

The most commonly affected areas of the body for this condition include the hands, feet, ankles, and wrists. These areas are common places for this condition because the tendons in those areas are quite long along the joints. But, this condition can occur in any tendon sheath in the body.

Infectious tenosynovitis can sometimes require surgery, as it can be an emergency situation. But this version of the condition often results from infected cuts to the hands or wrists that affect the tendons.

Symptoms Of Tenosynovitis

Symptoms of this condition can include:

  • Difficulty moving the affected joint
  • Swelling in the joint area
  • Redness of the skin along the length of the tendon
  • Pain upon moving the joint
  • Pain and tenderness surrounding the joint
  • If the symptoms result from a cut or puncture to the area, symptoms including redness, swelling, and fever may therefore indicate an infection of the area

Exams & Tests

In order to diagnose tenosynovitis, a health care provider will typically perform a physical exam of the patient. They may stretch or touch the affected tendon. Also, the patient may be asked to move the joint, in order to check for pain.

Treatment Of Tenosynovitis

The goal of treatment for tenosynovitis is to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area. However, in most cases, the condition can resolve on its own with rest.

Other treatment suggestions include:

  • Heat or cold packs to the area to help with inflammation and pain
  • Use a splint or brace to keep the area still
  • Doctor-recommended strengthening exercises after recovery
  • Medications such as NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections
  • If the condition results from an infection, it needs treatment as quickly as possible. Usually, antibiotics can help, but in severe cases surgery could be needed to remove infected pus from around the tendon area
  • In rare situations, the inflammation around the tendon may be severe enough to require corrective surgery