Tell me how to plan for a potential Tendinitis treatment
March 1, 2013 7:24 AM   Subscribe

I believe I am getting Tendinitis in my right wrist. Despite my best efforts (Ergonomic everything, mousing with the left hand, exercises every hour) it has slowly gotten worse over the past year. I want to go talk to a specialist about it, but I am very anxious about what treatment will entail. Can you please tell me what your experience has been with getting tendinitis treated? What were the costs, how many visits did it take, what kind of treatments did you receive?

Based on previous conversations with my doctor, I am pretty sure it is tendinitis. He has referred me to a specialist but due to money I have been putting it off for as long as possible. I want to take care of it because I finally have some insurance, but I want to know more about what I'm getting myself into.

thank you!
posted by rebent to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I had very painful tendinitis in my ankle, a specialist had me wear a brace, rest it as much as was possible, and do hydrotherapy three times a day (45 seconds in ice water, 90 seconds in very hot water, repeat ten times, end with ice water.)

I had a total of two visits, and my insurance covered most of it. It eventually resolved, but if it hadn't, I would have needed a moon boot and physical therapy.
posted by Specklet at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2013

Yeah...prob just a brace at this point (possibly even just an Ace bandage) for your TENDONITIS (because it's a tendon...with an O)
posted by sexyrobot at 7:53 AM on March 1, 2013

Tendinitis is an acceptable alternate spelling.
posted by Specklet at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

I wore a brace on my wrist and had two cortisone shots that solved then problem thus far. Please don't let fear of treatment stop you from seeing the appropriate doctor.

Tendinitis is the first (preferred) spelling in Merriam-Webster's. Tendonitis is the variation.
posted by purpleclover at 7:59 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (whoops that's how i wrote it first but I just went with Wikipedia)
posted by rebent at 7:59 AM on March 1, 2013

I'm a musician. Got it in my left wrist a few years ago (baby related...). Because extended brace and rest were problematic for a self-employed professional, my doctor moved me straight on to the cortisone injection. One trip to the doctor, one consultation with a specialist, one date with a very big needle. Worked very quickly, minimal complications.

Came back a couple of months ago (same stage in baby no. 2's life). I'm no longer playing as my primary source of income, and I got to the doctor much quicker. Different doctor, three visits, brace whenever possible (although he was fine with me removing it to play) and a couple of months of some serious anti-inflammatories. I've been off the pills a week now and it seems OK...
posted by monkey closet at 8:01 AM on March 1, 2013

This past year I had it in my right arm due to computer/mouse use. I was sent to an Occupational Therapist for about 8 weeks of ultrasound, stretching and exercises. It worked really well, and I have been without pain for several months. My doctor preferred this to cortisone shots but I guess the results were a little slower.

The first 4 weeks were twice a week and after that once a week, with exercises at home. I have insurance and it was 100% covered, no copay which was awesome (copays for everything else it seems).
posted by maxg94 at 8:29 AM on March 1, 2013

I have a lot of disabling tendinitis hassles in my elbows -- not sure how comparable to wrist issues, but -- I have had multiple cortisone injections (no effect at all), low-level laser therapy (possible brief and mild respite then back to pain). Rest did nothing. I wear elbow braces and take painkillers; I am about two years into this now. I am about to have another go with physiotherapy. One thing that DID help was loading up on painkillers and going kayaking (with my doctor's approval); I did this all last summer and built a terrific amount of muscle and the whole mess was notably improved. Then it got too cold to paddle and everything went back to @#$(. Sorry I don't have a happier story. (Cost = nothing direct, except of course the boat. I'm in Canada) I would certainly not feel hesitant or anxious about getting treatment; it's not something you want to avoid trying to fix. I can't stand needles but the cortisone shots -- I have other joint issues too and got six in one go at one point -- were quite tolerable; they put an anaesthetic in with the cortisone so things feel immediately, if not permanently, better.
posted by kmennie at 8:48 AM on March 1, 2013

I'm currently in treatment for tendinitis in my ankle. (The first thing you learn is that both spellings are used.) Treatment in my case involves avoiding high-impact activities, ice, orthotics, daily strengthening exercises (which are easy and take no more than ten minutes total), and weekly physical therapy sessions for the next four or five weeks. Ultrasound treatment was mentioned but is probably unnecessary; cortisone wasn't brought up at all.

The good thing is my physical therapist has extended hours so I don't have to take time off work; the less-good thing is I have a copay for each visit, but your insurance might completely cover it.

My doctor told me my ankle should be better in six to eight weeks from the start of treatment. My case is fairly minor and I'd been feeling pain/stiffness for only about five weeks before seeking treatment; yours may take longer since it's been going on for several months. Unless you get cortisone shots, expect progress to be gentle and slow.

Remember to wear either short sleeves or easily-rolled up sleeves to your appointment so the doc can see your wrist; I didn't think of this when I first went, and it was a little awkward.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:03 AM on March 1, 2013

My experience may be helpful. I'm 22, male, office job. I developed tendonitis (possibly from mouse use, possibly not; it had been bothering me on and off for a while) in my right wrist a few months into my new job and saw a doctor who recommended a brace, some stretching, and said cortizone shots might be an option if it didn't heal itself. He also wrote me a prescription for anti-inflammatories in case I wanted them, but I chose not to fill it.

I found that what helped me the most was weightlifting. The deadlift, bench press, dumbbell kickbacks, and other such hard-gripping exercises really helped to strengthen the muscles in my wrist and forearms. Since I started lifting heavier (I'm still very amateur, mind you; lifting very light weights by most standards) my symptoms have completely disappeared. I'm still working on getting full flexibility back to that wrist (I used to be able to bend my thumb down far enough to touch my forearm), but in terms of strength it's all better, and I haven't had pain or a relapse in ages.

I would highly recommend trying some heavy lifting - whatever "heavy" is to you, from 20 pounds to 200 or more) with exercises that require good grip and forearm strength. Deadlift is number one in that department, but your doctor or a fitness mentor may know more. (My doctor actually recommended I stay away from free weights, but when I went back for a follow-up and told him what I had been doing, he said I had made good decisions about what kind of exercises I was doing, unlike many who put extra strain on their joints while lifting.)
posted by Urban Winter at 9:27 AM on March 1, 2013

I have tendonitis in my wrists. I saw an occupational therapist, who gave me a brace to wear at night. It didn't seem to help much. Anti-inflammatories didn't seem to do much either. This was covered by government health care in my province.

I also saw a physical therapist, who mostly gave me exercises to do. I went for quite a few visits, and it cost a fair penny. It seemed to help some, but I'm not sure how much.

What helped the most for me was taking consistent breaks from typing, there are some good programs out there that help keep me on track.

As you may be noticing, people have varying experiences with different treatments, and the first one doesn't always work. I would recommend starting with either the cheapest or fastest, depending on whether money or time is scarcer in your life.
posted by vasi at 12:10 PM on March 1, 2013

You don't give much detail, but assuming you do indeed have hand or wrist tendinitis, I would recommend a hand surgeon (I'm biased that way). In my practice, I recommend a corticosteroid injection. It's quick, pain is short-lived and success is high, usually greater than 80-85% success. I only recommend bracing, therapy and NSAIDs for my needle-phobes. Reason being, they usually don't work, or if they do, they take a long time. Depending on your copays, 8 weeks of therapy can be very expensive. Most of my patients see me once. Maybe 10% of patients will have a recurrence. If it recurs in a few weeks, I recommend surgery. If it recurs in a few months, I offer another injection. 5-10% will go on to require surgery. Although surgery is a scary word to most folks, surgery for this is usually a 5-10 minute ordeal with local anesthesia. I usually do this in my office procedure room to save the patient the cost of a surgery center (sometimes more than $1000).
posted by karlos at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have tendinitis in my wrist that developed when I was pregnant and didn't go away. I tried wearing a brace and did a couple other suggestions from my GP, but I eventually went to an acupuncturist (who was also an MD) and that eventually relieved the pain. It took several sessions and some playing around with different needle locations.
posted by trillian at 3:27 PM on March 1, 2013

Karlos - what's a typical recovery time for that surgical procedure?
posted by azpenguin at 5:47 PM on March 1, 2013

Azpenguin- recovery is variable. For folks that sit at a desk and bark orders all day they are back to work that same day. Assembly line workers making engine manifolds may not be back to work for 3 months. I let people do whatever they can comfortably, most are back to normal in 6 weeks. Post-op therapy is usually only necessary maybe a third of the time.
posted by karlos at 6:19 AM on March 3, 2013

Response by poster: I wanted to add a follow up for anyone who comes here via tags or search or whatever - The wrist surgeon says that it's not tendinitis because it's my wrist that hurts, not my forearm (where the tendons are). He recommended looking into "writer's cramp" and that what is likely happening is that I'm spending extended periods of time where I am stressing my hand/wrist muscles (but not the tendons) via mouse/keyboard. So, there's more out there than just tendinitis! Thanks to everyone who gave me advice and suggestions.
posted by rebent at 8:44 PM on May 6, 2013

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