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What is Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist?

Drummer’s tendinitis of the wrist is a common problem for drummers due to repetitive hand and wrist movements associated with drumming. It may occur in musicians who play for long periods of time without rest.

This injury involves an inflammation of the extensor pollicis longus tendon that runs along the back of the wrist, closest to the thumb side.

Any repetitive action from a non-ergonomically correct position that entails movements of the thumb and wrist to the “thumbs-up” position can put strain on the long tendon to the thumb. In extreme cases of drummer’s tendinitis, tenderness, pain, and attritional tearing can occur.

Signs and Symptoms of Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist

Signs and symptoms of drummer’s tendinitis tend to occur at the point where a tendon pivots around a bony prominence near the wrist.

  • Pain described as a dull ache
  • Tenderness
  • Mild swelling

Causes of Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist

Many patients develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve a repetitive set of motions which stresses the tendon to the thumb with concomitant motion of the wrist.

Musicians playing any instrument in the band and orchestra can suffer from a variety of different tendinitides of the hand, wrist, and forearm. Drummers and trombone players seem to suffer the most from these overuse syndromes.

Although tendinitis can be caused due to a sudden injury, it is more likely to develop from repetitive movement over prolonged periods of time.

Injuries Associated with Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist

When the tendon becomes irritated and overloaded, the tissues begin to swell and inflame. This will normally begin the process of healing, however, if the movement that caused its injury continues, attritional tearing can occur.

If the swelling constricts the tendon within its bony-ligamentous tunnel, pain, and loss of motion occur. Over time, this can develop into tendinitis of the wrist of even tearing.

Treatment Options for Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist

Ergonomic analysis and improvements to the musician’s technique without detracting from their excellence may be useful to prevent future injury.

Conservative Treatments

Mild cases of drummer’s tendinitis can be treated with rest, splinting and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. If the pain is acute, players should seek immediate medical intervention.

If your hand surgeon gives you clearance to move forward with conservative treatments, you should:

  • Cease or at least reduce playing depending on severity.
  • Rest periods and stretching.

Patients can begin early controlled motion to ease their wrist back into daily activities and practice.

Surgical Treatments

The treatment of tendinitis of the wrist depends on the severity and duration of the condition.

Surgery is infrequent. Generally, the outpatient procedure entails rerouting the tendon to reduce pressure and improve its blood supply. There is a short recovery period. Chronic cases may require tendon repair or reconstruction with a greater need for occupational therapy.

Prognosis for Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist

Tendon decompression or repair are generally successful in returning the musician back to work. The sooner patients receive care the simpler the nonsurgical or surgical may be, and the easier the recovery. Physical therapy is recommended in order to maximize mobility and comfort.

If You Believe You Have Drummers Tendinitis of the Wrist, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing Drummer’s Tendinitis of the Wrist ought to be evaluated to minimize further injury and mobility issues.

If you think you have this condition, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled hand surgeon. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start the process to maximize comfort and function in your thumb and hand.

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