What is the definition of Tenosynovitis?

Tenosynovitis is inflammation of the lining of the sheath that surrounds a tendon (the cord that joins muscle to bone).

What are the alternative names for Tenosynovitis?

Inflammation of the tendon sheath

What are the causes for Tenosynovitis?

The synovium is a lining of the protective sheath that covers tendons. Tenosynovitis is inflammation of this sheath. The cause of the inflammation may be unknown, or it may result from:

  • Diseases that cause inflammation
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Strain

The wrists, hands, ankles, and feet are commonly affected because the tendons are long across those joints. But, the condition may occur with any tendon sheath.

An infected cut to the hands or wrists that causes infectious tenosynovitis may be an emergency requiring surgery.

What are the symptoms for Tenosynovitis?

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Difficulty moving the joint
  • Joint swelling in the affected area
  • Pain and tenderness around the joint
  • Pain when moving the joint
  • Redness along the length of the tendon

Fever, swelling, and redness may indicate an infection, especially if a puncture or cut caused these symptoms.

What are the current treatments for Tenosynovitis?

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Rest or keeping the affected tendons still is essential for recovery.

Your provider may suggest the following:

  • Using a splint or removable brace to help keep the tendons from moving to aid healing
  • Applying heat or cold to the affected area to help reduce pain and inflammation
  • Medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injection to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
  • In rare cases, surgery to remove the inflammation around the tendon

Tenosynovitis caused by infection needs to be treated right away. Your provider will prescribe antibiotics. In severe cases, emergency surgery is needed to release the pus around the tendon.

Ask your provider about strengthening exercises that you can do after you recover. These may help prevent the condition from coming back.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Tenosynovitis?

Most people fully recover with treatment. If tenosynovitis is caused by overuse and the activity is not stopped, it is likely to come back. If the tendon is damaged, recovery may be slow or the condition may become chronic (ongoing).

What are the possible complications for Tenosynovitis?

If tenosynovitis is not treated, the tendon may become permanently restricted or it may tear (rupture). The affected joint can become stiff.

Infection in the tendon may spread, which could be serious and threaten the affected limb.

When should I contact a medical professional for Tenosynovitis?

Call for an appointment with your provider if you have pain or difficulty straightening a joint or limb. Call right away if you notice a red streak on your hand, wrist, ankle, or foot. This is a sign of an infection.

How do I prevent Tenosynovitis?

Avoiding repetitive movements and overuse of tendons may help prevent tenosynovitis.

Proper lifting or movement can decrease the occurrence.

Use the appropriate wound care techniques to clean cuts on the hand, wrist, ankle, and foot.


Biundo JJ. Bursitis, tendinitis, and other periarticular disorders and sports medicine. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 247.

Cannon DL. Hand infections. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 78.

Hogrefe C, Jones EM. Tendinopathy and bursitis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 107.

Mikkel Z. Ostergaard
Mikkel Z. Ostergaard
Daniel Glinatsi
Glostrup, DK
Philip G. Conaghan
Leeds, ENG, GB
Annamaria Iagnocco
Bo J. Ejbjerg
Slagelse, DK
Lene Terslev
  • Journal: Acta chirurgiae orthopaedicae et traumatologiae Cechoslovaca
  • Published —
A Rare Case of Flexor Tenosynovitis Due to Tuberculosis in Hand and Wrist: a Case Report.
  • Journal: Der Orthopade
  • Published —
Peroneal tendon pathologies : From the diagnosis to treatment.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Procedure, Device
  • Participants: 80
  • Start Date: August 1, 2021
Intra-sheath vs Extra-sheath Injection for De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 4
  • Intervention Type: Drug
  • Participants: 200
  • Start Date: June 25, 2019
Differential Efficacy of Corticosteroid Solutions for Non-Operative Treatment of Digit Flexor Tenosynovitis: A Double-Blind Prospective Randomized Clinical Trial