Tendinitis is Terrible

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by gel_pens, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. gel_pens

    gel_pens Semi-pro Worrier

    Okay so I have an ongoing bout with tendinitis in my wrist and I really need some help. Most of my habits/hobbies are very, uh, hands on. Knitting, drawing, writing, even typing can make it hurt more. My phone is also pretty much out of the question. I'm at college in my dorm with a limited social life and even more limited transportation off-campus. I need advice on things to do that A: Won't make things worse, and B: are feasible. Also any advice on making things less sore or even just relaxing my overworked arm would be nice.
  2. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    Ha! I knew it! My history of fucked-up hands would be useful to someone!

    I'm on mobile right now, so I am mostly making this post as a reminder for myself, or at least for you/other people to get on my back if I don't come back with advice.

    First, questions. Just the one wrist? is it sore all the time, or just some times of day or with some activities? What have you tried already?

    You said you're in college: I was still in school when I trashed my hands, and I was able to get physical therapy through the college health center, covered by tuition and fees. That helped a TON.
  3. gel_pens

    gel_pens Semi-pro Worrier

    It's just my right wrist, but my elbows on both sides are starting to feel off. It's lowkey sore pretty much all the time but it gets worse later in the day and when I do things that involve a lot of movement on my wrist. I've been wearing an athletic brace at night and taking ibuprofen when it gets above a dull ache, hitting a 4 instead of a 3 or whatever, but I'm also getting frustrated because it's been going on since the middle of this August. I did have a doctor/wrist specialist check it out and I got a cortisone shot two weeks ago which definitely helped bring the overall discomfort level down but I was really hoping to be at a better point than I currently am. I've almost forgotten what it's like to not be sore. :(
  4. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    Hi! Sorry this is so belated, life ran away with me.

    First of all: don't know what kind of care you're doing for your hands, but some simple stretches like these can make a lot of difference. So can warm soaks in Epsom salts dissolved in water - you can get those in the pharmacy/drugstore section of lots of places, or at a drugstore. A whole bath is super relaxing but if you have a tub you can just stick your arm in that's also still helpful.

    Things you can do when your hands are fucked -

    * Knitting is still possible! I mostly do projects with chunky yarn on low tension, and I wear some gloves kinda like these.
    * I used to read a lot on bad hand days - physical books can sit in my lap and have pages turned while holding my wrists stiff (or with your non-injured hand), and e-reading usually just involves a simple button press or swipe.
    * I would catch up on YouTube stuff on really bad days, as I could set up a playlist and then not even have to click things - I liked watching Crash Course when I wanted to learn stuff.

    I can come up with other ideas, but those are my main three on bad pain days. Mostly, I try really hard to manage EVERYTHING I'm doing that day... my sister and wife are both often willing to carry stuff/open jars/do anything that requires some hand "oomph," even if I could do it right now, because that means I have more hand spoons for doing the stuff I love like writing, knitting, and drawing. I've also gotten really good at manipulating stuff in nontraditional ways to spread the stress out, ie not repeating the same motion all the time. And I've developed weird habits like never opening push doors with my hands, but instead with my forearm or shoulder or back (which was much more of a thing I ran into in college), as the forward-press motion really wore me down fast.

    Um, this got kind of rambly. If you have more specific questions I'm happy to help out.
    • Like x 2
  5. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    @Kit thank you for this. not sure if tendonitis proper or just nerve damage in my hands but i too have the hand/wrist problems. the "what do when wear brace" stuff especially.

    keeping this thread watched in case anyone else has awesome advice.
  6. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    @pixels You're very welcome! I grab for any silver lining I can with my hand issues, and being able to help other ppl is definitely silvery :-)

    FWIW, I have nerve damage, tendinitis, and early arthritis in my mix, so if you CAN get some kind of assessment done on your hand damage it can really help with treatment plans. ie, cold packs can help tendons sometimes esp when they're actively inflamed, but cold hurts my nerves and joints so I have to skip that. My roommate has a pain rub for her back that would probably help my joints but gives my nerves fits. And there are some specific stretches that help relieve pressure on nerves.
  7. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    my doc had literally zero advice aside from "advil regimen." nothing to alleviate the cramps that come from handwriting for three hours straight. apparently that doesn't hurt normal people but i couldn't get my hand to uncurl.

    mom has carpal tunnel. she wears a brace sometimes. that's the only advice she's gotten either, wear the brace when it gets bad and take some pain meds.
  8. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    WOW that sucks. Unfortunately I don't have great doctor finding advice... I first got treatment in 2008, in the middle of one of my depression breakdowns, so the specific instructions I got are way too hazy to remember, and I was going through the University health center regardless.

    I vaguely remember the doctor who was first doing my assessment had me do a bunch of specific stretches and positions and report my pain, but I know we already suspected nerve damage. The physical therapist was who really did wonders... maybe if you and/or your mom tell your gp that the problems haven't stopped and you'd like a referral for pt?
  9. Lib

    Lib Well-Known Member

    That... doesn't hurt normal people? O_O I kinda guessed it was weird, but eh, confirmation is never fun. (I don't handwrite if I can avoid it because cramps, and then I get things like 'almost dropping the knife because cutting meat gave me handcramps', etc.)

    And yeah, people I know with carpal tunnel have also only gotten 'wear braces if you can afford them and take pain meds sometimes maybe', so I don't have a huge amount to contribute. >_<
    • Like x 1
  10. Raire

    Raire Turquoise Helicoid

    Ok wow, I am going to give you all the info I can.
    I already spend a lot of time on my computer since a lot of my socialization comes through it, and drawing is something I do often. That said, sometime after I took to doing some translation jobs and taking my computer to bed I started getting painful tendonitis on my dominant hand. I am super grateful for the doc I saw who immediately got me started on physical therapy.
    First off, if it is computer related it often involves more thumb movement than you realize, and that really bothers and damages over time, so he gave me this wrist brace:
    I basically had to wear it 24/7 at first since my wrist was swollen and stuff, but with proper care you won't have to. Basically, at least wear this when sleeping, or when writing a lot. It will be really annoying, but it is better to deal with that than find out you can't do what you love. I would really recommend wearing it a full week at first to let your wrist recover some.
    Second, do those exercises in that video. Do them once every hour. I am serious about this, put a timer, ask somebody to remind you, but do this. Make sure to hold the position ten seconds at least, don't do seesawing back and forth because that doesn't really help at all and is more repetitive motion rather than letting tendons stretch and find a way to relax. Try to add extra sessions at first, not just once an hour.
    Third, change your habits. If you took your laptop to bed like me and lay on your side and did awkward typing, can't do that anymore. If you can get one of those lap desks so you can work or browse at bed, sure, do that sitting and keep your wrists straight, but otherwise it really isn't any good for you. Additionally, you are going to have to start paying attention to how you hold your hands when typing... to avoid wrist movement or keeping it in the wrong angle. I'll draw a diagram to show what I mean tomorrow afternoon I am sleepy right now.
    I find it easier to do this by putting a pillow or cushion underneath my wrist while at a desk so I don't bend my hand instinctively. I've rolled up shorts to get the right height to, but the idea is to provide support while avoiding putting too much weight on the wrist itself. Don't lift or push heavy stuff for a while, you need to take it easy.
    Fourth, if you can get physical therapy at a good price, definitely do that. It is better that it doesn't get bad :X Mine lasted a lot of months, and I mean a lot, but it was worth it since now I only get twinges every so often and then I know I have to be careful, but I still spend a lot of time on my computer and my drawings. If someone can do massages on your whole arm, that will be helpful too since the muscles knot up from the pain and tension which tends to aggravate the issue.
    Fifth, if you can find an antiinflammatory spray or cream, something that won't give you texture heebie jeebies via weird ointment, follow the instructions and use it. Mine was a spray that I used three times a day on the parts that hurt.
    For your elbows, you are going to have to figure out what motions are the ones that make them feel odd and kind of... feel your way into different movements to reduce stress from avoiding stress on your wrists XD

    I hope this helps!
    • Like x 2
  11. Raire

    Raire Turquoise Helicoid

    Ok! I took some photos to give an idea of how I protect my wrists when on a laptop.
    This is my workspace! I took an old shirt and rolled it up to the comfortable level, and old short for the left. You can use pillows, cushions, scarves... you'll have to experiment what gives you the right level of support and the right angle. Sometimes I have to refold a shirt several times before I am satisfied.
    This is roughly the angle I used to type at, with my wrists bending a bit so that my knuckles and fingers rise up, instead of keeping a level horizontal line from arm to knuckles.
    This is... also not good, where the hands hang from your wrist.
    This is how I type comfortably. My wrist isn't completely 100% straight, but the support of the shirt on my forearm helps me keep a straight enough angle to avoid stressing my wrist. If I am in pain, I wear my wrist brace as well, and avoid using my thumb to type, which slows me down but is an acceptable compromise for avoiding pain. You will probably have to experiment to find what works best for you, whether you prefer support all the way down to your elbows, or if you prefer it only right below the wrists and not just the forearm, but keep in mind that the goal is to avoid moving them too much. I'd check those ergonomic illustrations about how to sit and work on a computer and use that as a guideline to position your hands as well!

    It is going to take a long time, months, for your wrist to be fine working without a wrist brace, though, especially without regular physical therapy, but these at least will help keep any damage in check, and even when more "healed" it would be useful to sleep with a wrist brace. Try not to wear the wrist brace 100% though as that means your muscles get weak, and if you want some exercises I'll see if I can remember something useful!
    • Like x 3
  12. gel_pens

    gel_pens Semi-pro Worrier

    Hey I'm checking back in to say thanks!! All of your advice is really great, those stretches and icing my poor wrist really helped me out today. I just got a prescription for PT and since I'm still an undergrad my dad's insurance is going to cover it. I'm working on scheduling that first appointment and I'm definitely going to invest in a heavier-duty wrist brace. Also been avoiding using my wrist for doors and it's like, ?????? I did not know how much it would help at all. I'm really glad for all of this help and am 100% going to try and set up my desk with more support.
    • Like x 2
  13. devian

    devian Well-Known Member

    @Kit and @Raire THANK YOU, I have recently developed carpal tunnel and this is all amazingly helpful advice. And I may need to get one of those wrist braces with the thumb part because that looks highly useful...
    • Like x 2
  14. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Another thing I discovered a long time ago is that it's really important for my hands to keep my wrists warm and insulated or they'll have more problems. I wear wristbands a lot these days when typing or doing ohter kinds of repetitive motions.
    • Like x 2
  15. Raire

    Raire Turquoise Helicoid

    I am so glad! The PT definitely helps. The place I went to used ultrasound to help reduce swelling of the tendons, and then some... laser thingy to promote healing. It's funny because it isn't really a visible laser, but we still had to wear tinted goggles to protect our eyes. Oh, and they did arm massages but that was always hilarious as I am apparently made of tough muscle underneath the soft jiggly fat. Also icing but that is a given.
    For exercises, they varied them a lot, but they're usually pretty mindless and not painful. Report any pain you feel while doing an exercise!
    Also yes, avoid opening doors. Avoid any twisty movement overall, actually! Twisty movements will make it worse, try to use your hand maximum for simple up down motions. The doc told me my jar opening days were on hold.

    Oh man, I've heard that carpal tunnel is worse than tendinitis, definitely take care of yourself! I can't recommend enough getting a good wrist brace - it might be worth to ask a specialist what specific brace you need. When I got my wrist checked out, I specifically searched through the docs at the clinic we go to for the one who specializes on hands, so that helped too. He made me do some stretches and movements and point out where the pain was and how intense, and from that he identified what tendons were swollen and chose the wrist brace. It might be worth looking for tips on how carpal tunnel differs from tendinitis and if there are extra things to do for that.
    • Like x 1
  16. devian

    devian Well-Known Member

    @Raire Yeah, I had a computer-intensive internship over the summer with less than ideal ergonomic conditions, and I was just in CONSTANT PAIN for like half of it because oh god my wrist. I visited my university's health center at the beginning of September and got a wrist brace and a round of NSAIDs, so I'm doing better now at least, but wow that was incredibly unfun for a while there.

    The doctor at the health center did have me do some stretching and hand movements to figure out that yep it's definitely the carpals that are messed up, but we didn't get into a lot of specifics beyond that. The brace I got was fairly generic but seems to be working out okay so far. I was mostly wondering about the brace with the thumb because sometimes when I'm having problems with my wrist already, moving my thumb around too much makes it worse, so a brace like that might be helpful there.

    Mostly I'm just flailing a bit now because the advice I got from the doctor was pretty general, so I've been having a hard time connecting that with specifics about how to proceed, if that makes sense? So advice like this is very helpful for figuring that out. And I didn't even know things like anti-inflammatory sprays existed, but they sound absolutely magical.

    (Also I really wish doctors told you more about the dumb minor stuff you can't do when your wrist is borked. Like opening doors and jars and pouring milk and leaning your weight on that arm ever, arrgh.)
    • Like x 1
  17. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    @devian There is so. much. dumb minor stuff. It's taken me seven years of dealing with this to come around to feeling comfortable asking for help with stuff, but luckily all my current housemates are really great about opening jars, carrying groceries, etc. Don't feel bad about asking for help when you need it - there's only so much work your hands can do in a day.

    @Raire your laptop photos are fantastic! I had one of those insulated rectangle bags the blood bank gave out that was the same width as my laptop, so it worked perfectly in college... now I've invested in an ergonomic keyboard for my desktop, and I tried a couple different kinds before I found one that worked for me.

    @Morven I second keeping hands warm! My big bulky wrist warmers are my lifesavers in wintertime.
    • Like x 2
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