Treatment for Tenosynovitis

Tenosynovitis occurs due to an inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. The sheath becomes thickened and then the tendons are unable to glide smoothly, this causes pain when lifting things or twisting the wrist.

Tenosynovitis may be treated using steroid injections to reduce the swelling and allow tendons to glide freely. Steroid injections can take up to 12 weeks to resolve the problem and sometimes cause thinning of the skin or lightening of the skin colour.

When steroid injections have not worked as hoped, surgery is considered. The operation is carried out as a day-case which means the patient does not need to stay in hospital overnight, under local anaesthetic. A tourniquet is used to reduce bleeding and then the surgeon makes a small incision into the inflamed tendon at the wrist to release the tendon sheath. 


The patient's hand will be bandaged to allow the fingers to move freely, and this will be removed approximately five days after the operation. The wound will need to kept clean, dry and covered until it has fully healed approximately two weeks after the operation.

This procedure is considered safe but as with all surgery there are certain risks. Patients may get an infection, which can be treated with a course of antibiotics, sever pain or stiffness, nerve damage or excessive bleeding. The consultant will discuss the risks and advantages associated with this procedure in detail with the patient.