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scalyfreak

Lifting with tendinitis in one wrist

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Around 2-3 years ago I was diagnosed with de Quervain's Tenosynovitis in my right wrist. It's basically carpal tunnel, but in a different tendon. Repetitive movements, like typing and using a mouse (all I do all day at work), as well as lifting heavy things like grocery bags or small children in and out of seats, makes it worse.

 

Dead lifts make it a lot worse. I did dead lifts at the gym yesterday, and full flareup is in progress.

 

This worries me, because I really want to start the StrongLifts program (power clean just looks bad for the inflamed wrist), but I worry that holding a progressively heavier and heavier barbell will cause the DQT to spiral out of control. I have received cortison shots in the past and they seem to help, but I really don't want to have a third, and the next step up is surgery. Currently I am taking an anti-inflammatory every day and wearing a brace to stabilize the thumb whenever it's practical for me to do so.

 

I'm looking for advice from lifters who have been in my situation. (Yes, I know I should be talking to my doctor, but while he is an excellent doctor and I trust him, he is not a lifter. He's a runner. I'm keeping him in the loop though.) Since the condition is caused by over-use, I have decided to stop doing dead lifts for now. I can do squats, since the weight of the bar is not supported by the hand or thumb at all, and will look to change up a lot of my dumbbell and barbell exercises for something that keeps stress off the wrist. I just don't know what those would be.

 

Exercises I'm looking to replace are chest press, shoulder press, including the over-head one, push-up and assisted pull-ups, for now. I think I can do row as long as I don't wrap my thumb around the bar, but haven't truly tested that theory yet. I'm not trying to replace the exercises in StrongLifts, at this point I'm simply trying to find things I can do at the gym that give the thumb tendons a chance to rest so they can heal, while working those muscles.

 

And I hope I put this in the correct forum. i wasn't sure where to put the thread.

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No one?

 

That's okay. This thread was a gamble, and I fully understand that no one wants the liability of giving this kind of advice in a forum. :) 

 

I have been working on strengthening the muscles around the tendon, so they can help it out, and it seems to be help so far. I am back to dead lifting and bent-over rows, and no flare-up yet. There is still pain, but it remains on the same level it was before the workout, so I consider this a good sign.

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If using a thumbless grip is all you need to enable the exercises, perhaps get lifting straps and use that in conjunction with the thumbless grip. I know for a fact this will work for deadlifts; how well it translates to the other lifts I couldn't say.

 

Edit: That is to say you can deadlift with thumbless grip + strap; not sure if it's ideal for your specific situation.

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8 minutes ago, calanthrophy said:

Edit: That is to say you can deadlift with thumbless grip + strap; not sure if it's ideal for your specific situation.

 

I'm not sure either, but even a quick trip to google suggests this is worth learning more about.

 

My dilemma is that on the one hand, I am trying to reduce stress on the inflamed tendon, but on the other hand, making the bar easier to lift for one hand (not sure how else to describe it) seems counterproductive, to put it mildly.

 

Thanks for the suggestion! As I start to go up in weight I will keep the straps in mind. :)

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 I think this is the first time I've heard of this.  I can't remember anyone else going through this to offer assistance.

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7 minutes ago, Br0din said:

 I think this is the first time I've heard of this.  I can't remember anyone else going through this to offer assistance.

 

I'm guessing the majority of people with tendinitis/carpal tunnel, or other wrist injuries, probably take their doctor's advice to "rest the joint" as an order to stay out of the gym. :P

 

I have decided to take what I learned from all the physical therapy I did to treat the severe tendinitis in my shoulder (See a pattern yet?) and apply it to my wrist. They made me lift and cable row specific exercises geared towards strengthening the muscles around the tendons in the shoulder. The idea was that the inflammation happened because the tendons were working too hard, so by making the muscles stronger they could do all the heavy work, and the tendon would not be re-inflamed from overwork again.

 

So I have been doing farmer walks, alternated with just holding on to dumbbells, starting with very low weights and gradually working my way up to medium. I'm thinking that by developing the muscles in the hand and lower arm, the same thing will happen with the wrist as happened to the shoulder. The muscles do the heavy lifting and the tendon just goes along for the ride.

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3 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

I have decided to take what I learned from all the physical therapy I did to treat the severe tendinitis in my shoulder (See a pattern yet?) and apply it to my wrist. They made me lift and cable row specific exercises geared towards strengthening the muscles around the tendons in the shoulder. The idea was that the inflammation happened because the tendons were working too hard, so by making the muscles stronger they could do all the heavy work, and the tendon would not be re-inflamed from overwork again.

 

So I have been doing farmer walks, alternated with just holding on to dumbbells, starting with very low weights and gradually working my way up to medium. I'm thinking that by developing the muscles in the hand and lower arm, the same thing will happen with the wrist as happened to the shoulder. The muscles do the heavy lifting and the tendon just goes along for the ride.

 

I'm curious to hear how this goes over time! GL.

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So it has been a really long time since I posted here, and I feel a need to report back on my progress.

 

First off, remember that tendinitis is not something that really ever goes away. My day job requires me to spend my entire work day using a computer, which essentially is as bad for my wrist as my waitress job is for helping a sprained ankle heal. That said, one of the very few activities that over time has proven that it does not make the tendinitis worse, is weight lifting. AT least as long as I do it correctly. For example, if I forget to lock my wrists in the straight position before unracking the bar for squats, that becomes excruciating very quickly. But deadlift, overhead press, bench press, barbell row... any of these are all fine. Any exercise that keeps the wrist locked straight, is fine, because it's the muscles in my arm doing the heavy lifting, not the tendons.

 

So lifting with tendinitis is absolutely doable. And that is awesome. :) 

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So i was googling lifting with wrist tendonitis and found this thread. I was officially diagnosed with it in my right wrist yesterday, although ive stayed out of the gym for the last couple weeks out of fear of making it worse (been doing spin bike at home to hopefully negate some of the fat gain). The doctor i saw heavily suggested i dont do any lifting exercises for a couple more weeks. I dont really have a question as it seems as tho you have figured out how to keep the tendonitis in check. The only difference with myself is that i am a diesel mechanic and end up lifting and getting in awkward positions all day, and i really worry the wrist injury will become a chronic condition.

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Obviously, do not ignore your doctor's advice just because someone on the internet says something else worked for them.

 

My tendinitis has been at a "management" level for a long time. The inflammation needs to go down and the joint needs to heal, before you can go back to lifting with that arm. From that perspective, it's just like any other injury.

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