Tenosynovitis is a condition that is characterized by the inflammation of the synovium (i.e. the sheath containing the synovial fluid) leading to excessive joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Basically, tendons are a type of tough fibrous connective tissue that links the bones to the muscles and together they help the body perform various activities like grasping, lifting, jumping and running. These tendons are covered by a protective sheath known as synovium that contains the synovial fluid which in turn lubricates the tendons and facilitates the smooth movement of the various joints. Without these connectors or tendons, it is impossible to move around. Also Read: Achilles Tendinitis - Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis
However, despite the high tensile strength of the tendons, in certain cases due to overuse, they are prone to injury or bacterial infections. In the case of tenosynovitis, an injury to the tendons disrupts the protective synovium sheath and causes malfunction. Due to the malfunction, the synovium is not able to make any more synovial fluid ultimately leading to swelling of the sheath.
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Tenosynovitis can occur in any person and is not just limited to athletic people. It mostly occurs in people who perform a repetitive set of work or movements on a daily basis like office workers who are always into typing, musicians, dentists, carpenters, gardeners and sports persons playing golf or racket.
Tenosynovitis is basically of two types:
Infectious Tenosynovitis: In this case, the inflammation of the synovium is due to some infection caused by a small injury or puncture wound on the surface of the skin that became infected.
Non-infectious Tenosynovitis: In this case, it mostly occurs due to some kind of repetitive movement performed by the person. It is further of two types mainly de Quervain tenosynovitis and Stenosing tenosynovitis.
The most common cause of tenosynovitis results in the injury of the wrist, finger, hand or feet basically due to sudden sprains or strains, prolonged physical activities such as running or jogging, or standing in the same position for a longer period.
This condition is more viable in women than in men and is commonly seen in the age group of 30-50. In some people, inflammation of the sheath can also occur due to:
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Also Read: What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Learn How To Deal With It
- Reiter’s syndrome
Although the tendon sheath inflammation can occur in any part of the body like shoulder, forearm, upper arm, knee, or Achille’s heel, primarily tendons of the hand, feet, wrist, and thumb are more susceptible towards getting injured. A person getting this syndrome often portrays the following symptoms:
- Joint tenderness
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling and stiffness
- Reddening of the outer skin
- Fusiform enlargement (if the inflammation of sheath has occurred in the finger)
Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosis is generally done by an orthopaedic doctor after a thorough physical examination of the affected part to check for any sign of swelling, pain or redness. He may also perform some imaging techniques like CT-scan, MRI-scan or X-ray to know the exact cause of pain in the tendons and rule out other causes.
Treatment options mostly involve around reducing the pain and inflammation around the joint or affected tendons which includes:
- Prescribing anti-inflammatory or pain-reducing medications
- Performing Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
- Total immobilisation of the affected area
- Providing support to the affected part with a brace or splint
- Application of heat or cold packs to reduce swelling
- Massaging the affected area