Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, the bands of strong connective tissue that attach muscle to bone, which are often due to a repetitive strain injury. Repeated straining of a tendon can cause small tears that lead to the inflammation of the tendon. The fibrous tissues of the tendons have a relatively poor blood supply and are therefore slow to heal compared with muscle or bone. The pain, swelling, stiffness, and weakness caused by tendonitis can last for months or even years. This condition is common among athletes, computer users and those engaged in strenuous manual labor involving regular lifting which tends to overuse the tendons through repetitive motions.
Pain in the forearm area and wrist is described as “tight, achy, and burning sensation”, similar to a pulled muscle. The swelling of the tendons from the wrist to the elbow can be extremely painful. Swelling, at times, will make it quite stiff with limited range of motion in the wrist. Routine activities such as turning a door knob or opening a jar can become impossible as it may be difficult to make a fist or flex the fingers.
The pain is fairly constant but will increase with physical activity. It is also common to experience pain in the morning and during the night, when the arm is at rest. Some people describe hearing grinding sounds when rotating their hand or wrist.
RICE it! R.I.C.E is an acronym for treatment used by people who suffer from forearm tendonitis. ‘R’ for period of rest, during which time one should avoid lifting heavy items or straining the muscles in any way. ‘I’ for ice. Applying ice can be useful in reducing inflammation and pain. Wrap an icepack in a towel and do not apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time in order to minimize the risk of frostbite. ‘C’ for compression. Light pressure on the forearm has proven helpful along with keeping the arm slightly elevated (‘E’) when resting and applying ice, further helping to alleviate swelling.
Gentle stretching of the forearms in wrist extension and flexion will help elongate the tendons of the forearm. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat for 4-6 repetitions a day.
Cold Laser Therapy
We are proud to offer laser therapy for tendonitis and various other musculoskeletal conditions we treat. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) reduces the pain and inflammation and promotes healing by focusing infrared and visible red light on the injured tendon. The treatment is painless and the patient may feel a warm tingling sensation as the nerves are stimulated. Laser therapy for tendonitis may reduce the need for surgery and cut the healing time for tendonitis by as much as 50%. It may also help replace anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Photons (light energy) from the laser beam stimulate the cells of the damaged tissues, increasing cell division, circulation, and oxygen supply to the tissues, thereby promoting tissue regeneration. Laser therapy for tendonitis also promotes nerve cell regeneration.
Call our office and let’s get started on your tendonitis treatment plan today! 802-655-0354.
Kneebone WJ. (2006) Practical Applications of Low Level Laser Therapy. Practical Pain Management November/December