Tendonitis in the hand occurs because the tendon tissues become inflamed. The inflammation can be the result of repetitive strain or trauma. However, repetitive strain, such as long hours of typing and playing golf, is the primary cause of tendonitis today. The symptoms of tendonitis generally begin with pain and possible swelling. Symptoms in typical, mild cases, when treated quickly and with no other complicating factors, dissipate in a couple of weeks. However, healing time can sometimes take weeks, months or a year, depending on a patient’s innate healing capacity as well as other factors.
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As with most injuries to the body’s soft tissues, the severity of the damage is a primary factor in a patient’s healing time. Most tendonitis symptoms dissipate in a couple of weeks with proper rest and joint immobilization. If the tendonitis is particularly severe, complete resolution of symptoms can take several weeks or months, even with proper treatment.
Therapy Response Time
If a tendon is injured but allowed to go untreated, it will take longer for treatment to take effect once begun. Usually, serious treatment begins only when the symptoms become more difficult to manage, and with the realization that they will not disappear on their own. Attending to the symptoms immediately with rest and joint immobilization will ensure a more rapid healing time.
Effect of Age
As the body ages, tendonitis can occur more often because soft tissues lose their elasticity and become more rigid. This leads to more easily produced microtears in the tendon with applied mechanical stress. And just as tendons are easier to damage with age, they also heal much slower. It is not uncommon for elderly patients to suffer with low-level tendonitis symptoms for many months, or even a year.
Often people with tendonitis also suffer with other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and arthritis. In such circumstances, it may be more difficult to alleviate the tendonitis even with dedicated and aggressive therapy. The relationship between the chronic disease and the pathology of the tendon is not well understood but almost certainly results in delayed healing.
Most tendonitis symptoms are easily alleviated if the hand is rested and immobilized, yet many patients will try to work through the pain. This produces even more irritation in the tendon and almost always results in additional injury. If activities are modified so that the hand is rested and immobilized, then healing can proceed unhindered. It is not unusual for patients to complain of chronic tendonitis for months or even years simply because they do not take the initial time to apply the appropriate therapy.
Associated Hand Dysfunctions
Tendonitis can result from hand trauma. Often, such trauma is associated with other tissue damage as might occur with crush injury or a bone fracture. When this occurs, alleviating tendonitis symptoms can be inhibited simply because the entire area may take longer to heal. This is especially true if the injury is adjacent to the affected tendon.