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Friday, October 11, 2013

What Can You Tell Me About Tenosynovitis?

"Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with tenosynovitis in my hand. Could you find me some more information on it?" Though none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are doctors, and therefore aren't qualified to give medical advice, we could certainly provide the resources to help answer our patron's question.

First, we wanted to define tenosynovitis. -Itis means "inflammation," which gave us a clue. According to Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the protective sheath around the tendon. The cause is often unknown, but it can be related to overuse of the tendon.

According to our patron, hers had been bad enough that her entire right hand had curled up, leaving her unable to stretch out her fingers. Fortunately, after a trip to the doctor, it had gotten much better, but she still had trouble bending her wrist and was hoping for more information on possible treatments.

We looked in the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book and the Merck Manual Home Health Book. Both stressed the importance of seeing a doctor, because if the tenosynovitis is caused by an infection, it's necessary to treat it immediately before it causes any permanent damage. Otherwise, both suggested treatments including over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol, Advil, and aspirin; resting the affected area; splinting; and changing one's activities, especially when the inflammation is caused by overuse. According to the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, if these methods aren't effective, a doctor can inject a steroid, such as cortisone.

Our patron gained some relief by rearranging her computer so that she could rest her arm while using the mouse. She was hoping to also find some exercises or stretches that might help. Typing "tenosynovitis exercises" into an online search engine brought up "De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Exercises." Although De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a particular kind, affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, our patron felt that the exercises  would be beneficial. Suggested exercises included grip strengthening (squeezing a rubber ball for five seconds at a time) and the finger spring (placing a large rubber band around the outside of the thumb and fingers, and then opening the fingers to stretch the rubber band).

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