Is Tendon Sheath Inflammation?
A tendon is a type of fibrous tissue that connects your muscles
to your bones. These tissues help control actions such as running, jumping,
grasping, and lifting. Without tendons, you wouldn’t be able to control the
movement of your body.
A protective sheath known as the synovium covers tendons. This
sheath produces synovial fluid, which keeps the tendon lubricated. Injury to the
tendon may result in the malfunction of the sheath. If this occurs, the sheath
may fail to make synovial fluid or it may not make enough fluid. This can cause
inflammation or swelling of the sheath. This condition is known as tendon
sheath inflammation. It’s also sometimes called tenosynovitis.
Causes Tendon Sheath Inflammation?
Tendon sheath inflammation is typically the result of injury to
the tendon or surrounding muscle or bone. It’s not limited to athletes and appears
in patients who perform a variety of repetitive-motion activities, such as
assembly-line work, weeding, and typing. People working in certain jobs appear
to have greater risk of it than others, including:
- office workers
It’s most common in the tendons of the wrist, hands, and feet.
Injury can result from:
- repetitive-stress activities
- prolonged physical activities, such as running
- standing in the same position for long periods
- sudden sprains and strains
Tendon sheath inflammation can also be due to underlying health
conditions. Examples of conditions that can result in this condition include:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- reactive arthritis, such as Reiter’s syndrome
The cause of the disease can’t be determined in some patients. In
rare cases, tendon sheath inflammation is due to an infection that resulted
from a cut or puncture to the tendon.
to Tell If Your Pain Is Caused by Tendon Sheath Inflammation
Certain tendons in the body are more susceptible to injury,
primarily those in the hands, feet, and wrists. Tendon sheath inflammation is
more common in these areas. However, it can occur in any tendon in the body,
including the shoulder, elbow, and knee. If you develop this condition, you may
have the following symptoms:
- joint stiffness, making it difficult to move
- joint swelling
- joint pain
- joint tenderness
- redness of the skin that overlies the tendon in
Some people may develop a fever. This indicates the presence of
an infection and requires immediate medical attention.
Is Tendon Sheath Inflammation Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of tendon sheath inflammation will require a physical
exam of the affected area. Your doctor will check to see if redness and
swelling are present. Your doctor may also ask you to move the affected area to
see if pain is present. In some cases, your doctor may order an ultrasound or
MRI to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes such as
Options for Tendon Sheath Inflammation
The treatment for tendon sheath inflammation focuses on reducing
inflammation and pain. One strategy is to rest the affected area and stop the activities
that caused the initial injury. Your doctor may recommend the use of a brace or
splint to immobilize the affected area. Applying heat or cold may also help
reduce swelling and pain. Other therapies that your doctor may recommend are:
- stretching the affected area
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Your doctor may also prescribe medications for tendon sheath
inflammation. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such
as ibuprofen, or injectable corticosteroids are other options. If your
condition was caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to
fight the infection.
If your condition is due to an underlying health issue, such as
rheumatoid arthritis or gout, treatment may also include medications to treat
Once the tendon heals, your doctor may recommend exercises or
physical therapy to help strengthen the muscle. Strengthening the muscle will
help protect the tendon from injury in the future. If you have recurring tendon
sheath inflammation, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem.
Is the Outlook for Patients with Tendon Sheath Inflammation?
If you develop tendon sheath inflammation, it’s likely that
you’ll make a full recovery with treatment. Problems may arise if the
activities that caused the condition aren’t stopped. If this happens, the
damage to your tendon may become permanent. Permanent damage may impact the
joint. Over time, the joint may become stiff and your motion may be limited.
If your condition develops as a result of an infection, you’ll
need antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection. An uncontrolled infection may
become life-threatening. A good prognosis depends on treating an infection
Can Tendon Sheath Inflammation Be Prevented?
Tendon sheath inflammation is preventable if you avoid excessive
movements or motions that are repetitive or forceful. Muscle strengthening
around the site of the joint can also help prevent this type of injury, as well
as stretching and range-of-motion (ROM) exercises.
If you cut your hands, wrists, or feet, proper cleaning of the
wound will help prevent infection and the possible development of tendon sheath