Inflammation Of Tendon Sheath: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The thick fibrous cords which attach muscle to bone are tendons. Occasionally, the sheath that encloses the tendon may get inflamed resulting in pain and tenderness in the joint. While inflammation can occur in any of the tendons, it is commonest around the elbows, shoulders, wrists, knees and heels.

In case the inflammation is severe and leads to the rupture of a tendon, you could even require surgical repair.

However, most cases are successfully treated with rest, medications, and physical therapy.

Causes And Symptoms Of Inflammation Of Tendon Sheath

The commonly seen clinical picture is:

  • Discomfort and pain on moving the affected joint.
  • Tenderness and swelling.
  • Cannot move the afflicted part.

Causes: The inflammation may be caused by sudden trauma; however, the condition is much more likely to occur due to repetitive movements. Most people develop the inflammation because their jobs or hobbies comprise of recurring cyclic movements, which put stress on the tendons that carry out the task.

Treatment Options For Of Tendon Sheath Inflammation

  • Rest: Steer clear of all those activities which increase the swelling and pain. Rest is vital for complete tissue healing.
    Do not stress the injured tendon.
  • Ice application: Apply ice packs, it will help allay the swelling, muscle spasm and pain; apply ice for 15 minutes several times daily.
  • Compression: The inflammation and swelling can cause some degree of loss of movement in the afflicted joint, thus, compressing the area until the swelling subsides helps a lot. Compressive elastic bandages are recommended.
  • Elevation: Elevating the affected joint above the level of your heart helps decrease the swelling.

Usually, following these 4 guidelines may be all the treatment that you need to manage your condition effectively. Nonetheless, it is always advisable to confer with your health care provider and check with him if any investigations and tests are necessary.

  • Pain relievers: Your doctor may prescribe analgesics (pain relievers) to help relieve the discomfort and pain associated with the inflammation.
  • Topical creams with anti-inflammatory medications have also proved to be greatly effective in assuaging the pain without causing any potential side effects of taking anti-inflammatory medications orally.
  • Corticosteroids: Sometimes your doctor may give you a corticosteroid injection around the affected tendon to relieve the pain and inflammation. Cortisone injections decrease inflammation and help allay the pain. However, corticosteroids are not advised for chronic inflammatory conditions that may last for over 3 months, as frequent injections can weaken your tendon and raise your risk of rupturing the tendon.
  • Ginger: The most effective natural remedy for tendon-related inflammations is ginger. Have powdered ginger or ginger tea 2 to 5 times daily. It will allay the swelling and pain rapidly.

Physical therapy is definitely beneficial.  You will benefit from a program of specific exercises that have been designed to stretch and reinforce the affected muscle-tendon unit. Physiotherapy helps reduce inflammation and swelling, get rid of stiffness and enhance your range of motion appreciably. Schedule yourself for 10 to 12 sessions with your physical therapist.

Depending on the severity of your tendon injury, surgical intervention may be required, especially if the tendon has torn away from the bone. Discuss with your health care provider / surgeon regarding what would be the best treatment options for you.