Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now

by Home Gardener

I am a 54 year old female. I am a home gardener and I first developed wrist tendonitis after turning the soil in my garden with a pitchfork.

I was pressing down with my right hand. After realizing it wasn't just going away I went to the doctor, had an xray, followed by some physical therapy for about 10 weeks twice a week.

They made a brace for me which I wore most of the day. Neither helped much. My doctor finally ordered a cortisone shot. It helped a lot.

But after about 8 months returned (probably when I started to garden again). I started to wear the brace again, but eventually had to go back and get another cortisone shot, which did not help for very long. That was about 4 months ago.

Gradually the pain got worse and worse. I wear the brace and it feels ok with it on but as soon as it comes off it hurts.

It seems as if it hurts more after I've worn the brace for a while. The wrist feels weak. I use an Icy Hot bandage around my wrist at bedtime, take ibuprofen a few times a day and both help but not enough.

I am discouraged that it will never go away.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Home Gardener.

Ok, so you have been having wrist pain for a
good long while now.

1. Why exactly do you think it is Wrist Tendonitis, as opposed to anything else, like a little rip or tear (which wouldn't show up on xray)?

2. Describe the pain. Where, when, sharp, dull, throbbing, buring, where exactly, etc.

3. Right hand only?

4. How's the elbow, shoulder, neck?

5. History of injury/break anywhere on that arm?

6. Know your Vitamin D level?

7. Do you sleep with the brace? Do your fingers/wrist curl at night when you sleep?

8. Any numbness or tingling?

First off, start Ice Dipping as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page. The more dips the merrier.

Talk to you soon.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Jan 21, 2010
PART 2 - Reply to Joshua from home gardener - Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua - Thank you for your reply!

In answer to your questions, the doctor diagnosed wrist tendonitis and I trusted he was correct. The pain is at the part of my wrist at the base of my thumb on my right wrist only.

It sometimes sends a shock into my thumb. It does not throb or burn. It is more of a sharp pain at times and also an ache. It hurts when I bend my wrist backward and hurts when I grasp a pen, a cup, etc.

The elbow and shoulder are fine. The neck is tight and sore but that's probably a result of my job doing a lot of computer work. No injuries or breaks and I just had a Vit D check with the last blood work and I am good. I do not sleep with the brace and I try not to curl my wrist when I sleep. No numbness or tingling.

Just found your site yesterday and did ice dips last evening. I honestly feel a little better today. I brought a frozen dixie cup to work with me! Thank you for your help!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Mary Ann.

If you do lots of computer work, then the front of your neck is short and tight (scalene muscles). You can get Carpal Tunnel Symptoms from those tight muscles stepping on the hose of the nerve.

May be playing a role in hand/wrist issues.

I'm curious....poke around in your thumb pad area. I wonder if it's REALLy tender there in the muscle of the thumb pad and the area it connects (where the curve of the pad meets the curve of the wrist/thumb).

I don't know what your actual wrist feels like, but it's possible that your thumb muscle/area could be the source of some/a lot/all of that pain.

One theory on the numbness is that your were poking around, hit something like a trigger point, and that spasmed/sent a shock through the area, making something else spasm that constricted your nerve. This again points to the thumb pad.

Yes, you can have Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel, but keep in mind that there's very little difference between them. They both stem from the Pain Causing Dynamic.

Ultimately, you need to open and soften all the structures in the lower arm/hand, possibley up at the neck and front of chest/shoulder too, and reduce Inflammation.

Jan 22, 2010
PART 3 - Interesting development - Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua - Just another comment I needed to add.

Yesterday I massaged my wrist with a frozen dixie cup. When I hit a certain spot I got a really sharp pain and had a flare of numbness and tingling went up my thumb and first three fingers. It eventually died down. That has not happened before. Could I possible have both tendonitis and carpal tunnel? Or could that have been a fluke in that I hit a nerve or something? I'm a little tender today. I did do the ice dips again last night.


Joshua Comments:

Oops, answered this one in PART 2.

Jan 22, 2010
PART 4 - reply to Joshua - Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua -
Thank you for your comments. I do know the neck can cause some carpal tunnel and I have been told that I have "computer neck". I need to exercise more in that area.

As far as pain in my thumb pad, I poked and poked, no pain. BUT the area on the inside wrist where the curve of the thumb pad meets the wrist is where I get pain. Also, if you move around the thumb toward the front of my hand I have a tender spot in my wrist, say between the thumb and forefinger.

Regardless, I have to work on reducing inflammation, is what you are telling me, so this weekend I will dip, dip, and dip some more.

I'm a little afraid of doing the dixie cup thing though. Any other tips would be helpful.


Joshua Comments:

Ok, that's good to know.

So. Phase 1. Ice Dip like a crazy woman for 4-7 days. The more the merrier. 10 second dips, wiggle your wrists around in there maybe.

Feel free to do hot/cold/hot/cold, but always end on cold.

If your skin gets dry or itchy, put some good lotion on it, the ice water can strip oil from the skin and bother some people.

Don't ice massage right now. Ice Dip. Ice Dipping will bring down the overall pain and acuteness, get inflammation chemical out and new blood and nutrition in, and make the ecology of the area better.

Phase 2 we'll get in there and do some massage kind of work.

Also, do you know your actual Vit D level? Good is 40-80, but many doctors will call 20 good, so let's compate notes.

Jan 26, 2010
PART 5 - still pain - Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua -
I'm ice dipping, but honestly I still have quite a bit of pain. How do I know if I have a torn tendon? Would it require an MRI? I have had this pain for quite some time now and I'm worried I'm going to have to live with it.


Joshua Comments:

Well....time really isn't an issue. People can be in pain from Tendonitis for decades and not have any significant, actual damage.

An MRI probably show tear, depending on how big it is, and how big the involved tendon is.

That spot you hit in the wrist, explore that a little bit. Is is a hot spot on a tendon? Is it in muscle? On ligament, depending on where the pain is?

Investigate that and let me know what you find.

How exactly, and how much and how long, have you been ice dipping? And what exactly are the results? Not good or bad, it's just usefull for me to know what exactly you're doihng and what the results of that have been.

(Also, what was your Vit D level?)

Jan 27, 2010
PART 6 - Reply to Joshua from home gardener
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua -
I truly appreciate your help. I'm afraid I don't know my Vit D number.

I am actually due for blood work, however, and it's on the lab order, so I'll be sure to let you know. The hot spot was right on the inside of my wrist and it's hard to determine what it is, but it sure felt like a nerve, definitely not muscle. It also was not really where I have the shooting pain.

That is more close to the right part of the inside wrist at base of my thumb. I get it when I move my hand just a certain way. Zap!

I have been ice dipping for about 5 days now. I have a large metal bowl I fill with ice and water. It only reaches just a few inches up my arm but I can get the wrist in there enough to wiggle it around. I dip for 10 seconds every 10 minutes or so. I does feel better when I'm done.

I don't always get 10 in, I have to admit, but most times I do. shall i try heat also?


Joshua Comments:

You're welcome!

Feels good when just dipping the wrist, imagine how good it will feel if you get the whole forearm up over the elbow.

Find a way to do this! YOu want to affect the entire ecology of the lower arm/wrist/hand.

Generally, that ZAP is due to a heightened pain/ready to go state where there's a lot of pain enhancing chemical from inflammation, the nervous system is already amped up, and muscles are spastic and jumpy down and the individual fiber level. ZAP describes it very well, actually.

It may be nervy, and feel nervy, but IMHO the problem is not with the nerve itself, it's the ecology around it (and including it).

Jan 27, 2010
PART 7 - more info - Wrist Tendonitis From Gardening- several years now
by: Mary Ann (the home gardener)

Hi Joshua -
I was thinking of a few more things I could mention that might be helpful.

First off, I only have been ice dipping once a day. I can't do it at work, so any suggestions?

Would just placing an ice pack on my wrist during the day be helpful?

I do take ibuprofen once or twice a day. It seems to help.

I also wear the wrist brace most of the day during work. I notice when I pull with my fingers (as in pulling open a door or pulling back and forth with the vacuum)I get a pain in my wrist. I have a good range of motion when I bend my hand, but hardly any bending backward...that hurts.

Overusing it really flares it bad, but I'm right handed, so rest is nearly impossible. Cooking and cleaning do a job on me. I am sincerely grateful for your comments.

I never dreamed you would get back to me as quick as you did and that you are truly interested in helping.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Mary Ann.

I certainly have my motivations, but at the heart of it all is that I love making a difference.


1. Dipping once a day meaning one dip, or one period of multiple dips?

2. Ice packs are better than nothing.

3. Ibuprofen and splints are fine in the short term to get you through the day/week. They can be a necessary and useful crutch, but they are a crutch nonetheless.

4. If I could get my hands on your arm/wrist for 3 minutes I could tell you pretty accurately what's going on. Tougher over this medium.

If it's nervy when you poke in there, and not a hot spot on a tendon, that points to the whole area is TOO TIGHT and TOO SHORT.

The best I can do to help you identify the problem is:

A. Get your Vitamin D levels up.

B. Magnesium as I described earlier. B12 (methylcobalamin not cyanocobalamin) for nerve issues.

C. ICE DIP! A LOT! All the way up to the elbow. Intensely for 4-7 days. I know it's inconvenient, but I bet being in pain is more convenient.

Ice dipping will lower pain levels, and that will help us identify what exactly is going on in there.

Jan 28, 2010
PART 8 - reply to Joshua
by: Mary Ann

Hi Joshua - I dip once a day for a period of about 8-10 dips, usually in the evening. It is helping. Today feels better.

I'll try the ice packs at work. I'm trying to go without the splint today since I do feel better.

It's really too bad that I can't mail you my wrist! I have been taking Citracal with D for years now since my Mom was diagnosed with osteoporosis. I'll check to see if it also contains magnesium. I started taking B6 (supposedly good for carpel tunnel just in case)in the last two weeks but I'll try B12 too, the kind you recommend.

I haven't ice dipped up to the elbow, but I'll try that too. I do feel a little better today so I know the ice dips are helping. I'll try and get more in. Thanks a million.


Joshua Comments:

That would be awesome! "Put your wrist in a box and send it to me, I'll have it back to you good as new in a week!"

My mind appreciates that kind of thing...:)

1. The amount of Vitamin D in Citracal is insignificant. Again, go get a Vit D level taken.

I like this Multivitamin and Multimineral product. It's not perfect, but it has 5,000i.u.'s of Vitamin D, 500mg of Magnesium, and 200mcg of Selenium (great on all three).

(I wish it was higher in some others, but oh well. Check out the label and use it as a guide.)

It's good that you are covering your bases with the B6 and B12.

2. Keep Ice Dipping! It's a cumulative effect. The more you do, the more benefit you get.

Give it several more days with a lot of ice dipping, and update me, and we'll fine tune as necessary.

Apr 09, 2015
I think I have patella tendonitis in right knee after gardening
by: Jill S

After gardening got burning and pain under knee cap and left side of knee. Have trouble going up and down stairs.

Started applying hot packs for 20 mins a time several times a day and my husband doing massage on the area. Resting it quite a lot and hit packs have helped but still painful with burning pain as well .

This is after 10 days.

How long does the healing process take and can you recommend any other tips.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Jill.

Are you actually injured?

Just because you have pain doesn't mean there's any actual injury. Maybe there is, I don't know.

So it's nigh impossible to answer your question, because you can be having pain from any of a number of directions.

You can get Tendonitis pretty much anywhere. Some feel it in the wrists, some in the knees, some...both..and more.

So it's important to understand the factors causing the pain.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

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