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What Does Tenosynovitis Mean?

Tenosynovitis is a medical condition in which the tendon and the fluid-filled synovium within its sheath become inflamed. It is caused by repetitive movements or certain types of physical strain.

Although the condition mostly affects the hand, wrist, and foot, it can affect any tendon in the body. The pain usually goes away with rest. If symptoms persist, physiotherapy, injections, or surgery may be required to manage the condition.

Safeopedia Explains Tenosynovitis

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bone. Injuries, illnesses, or repetitive motions can cause tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons.

A protective sheath, the synovium, covers the tendons and produces synovial fluid to keep them lubricated. Tenosynovitis occurs when the synovium becomes inflamed along with the tendon.

The most common form of tenosynovitis is stenosing tenosynovitis and includes trigger finger, trigger thumb, and de Quervain tenosynovitis.

Causes of Tenosynovitis

Tenosynovitis commonly occurs in the tendons of the wrist, hand, and feet and typically results from repetitive stress activities, prolonged physical activities, standing for long periods of time in the same position, or sudden sprains and strains.

It can also be caused by underlying health conditions such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Gonorrhea

A cut or puncture to the tendon can also result in tenosynovitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Tenosynovitis

Diagnosing tenosynovitis involves a physical examination of the affected area for redness, swelling, and pain from certain movements. If the symtpoms are present, an ultrasound or MRI scan may be required to rule out other possible causes such as arthritis.

Treatment plans for tenosynovitis focus on rest, reducing inflammation, and managing pain. A split or brace may be recommended to immobilize the affected area. Massage therapy, stretching exercises, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also factor in the treatment.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil) or injectable corticosteroids may be prescribed to further manage the pain and inflammation. If the NSAIDs are insufficient, disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as glucocorticoid may be prescribed as well.

If the condition persists after three to six months of this therapeutic approach, surgical intervention may be necessary to decompress the affected tendons.


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