Tendon Sheath Inflammation

Acute Tendon Sheath Inflammation

The acute form of inflammation causes intense pain as well as reddening and warmness in the affected area. Often the movement of the affected finger or part of the body causes a typical grinding within the afflicted tendon. The causes are often attributed to highly repetitive activities in work or free time such as golf, tennis, weight-training, but also piano and violin playing to name but a few. Other commonly used terms come to the fore such as mouse elbow (computer mouse), tennis elbow, mommy thumb etc. In acute cases, conservative (non-operative) therapy can be conducted. This treatment involves wearing a pressure bandage or splint, cooling of the affected area and the taking of pain and anti-inflammatory medicine. Any infectious or rheumatic disease should be ruled out as the cause.

Chronic Tendon Sheath Inflammation

If the repetitive activity causes or is predisposed to making the symptoms become chronic then surgery is the only usual alternative. In the chronic form of tendon sheath inflammation, there is a thickening of the tendon sheaths caused through continual irritation and inflammation. As a result, the tendons can no longer glide freely through the sheaths, resulting in a painful rubbing.

During surgery, the contracted and/or thickened tissue is removed or cut in order to restore the painless and unhindered movement of the tendons. Usually the operation can be carried out on an out-patient basis. The arm is injected with local anaesthetic and a tourniquet is applied to the upper-arm so that there is hardly any bleeding in the operating target area. The access site for the operation is through an incision above the affected tendon. The contracted or thickened tendon sheath tissue is removed and/or the ring ligaments split along their lengths. Afterwards, the unobstructed passage of the tendons is checked and the wounds sutured.


Chronic tendon sheath inflammation can cause various tendon entrapment syndromes.
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