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Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) Tendonitis - Overview - Nonsurgical Options

Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) Tendonitis

Overview

This tendonitis affects the extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendon which is on the pinky side of the hand. This tendon is one of the major tendons in the wrist. ECU tendonitis is where your carpi ulnaris muscle becomes inflamed and irritated. If you have continual repetitive movements that place stress on the tendon, this leads to irritation, pain, and eventually ECU Tendonitis. If you have this condition, you may have wrist pain, loss of grip, or stiffness in your pinky. Some report a “popping” sound when using the wrist. You may have pain in your wrist when you turn your wrist towards the pinky side. Some also notice swelling or fullness in their wrist.

Athletes are at an increased chance of an ECU Tendonitis diagnosis especially those who play racquet sports, basketball, or baseball players. Baseball players have this when they lack throwing mechanics. Golfers who “cast” are at an increased risk of diagnosis.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) Tendonitis

During an in-office visit, we will examine your wrist and hand. Then we may suggest an X-ray in order to see what’s occurring under the skin.

After understanding your injury here are a few of the treatment options we may suggest:

  • Rest. Refrain from activities causing the pain and discomfort.
  • Ice. Every two hours ice the affected wrist for up to twenty minutes in order to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Splint/Brace. Use a brace or splint to rest your wrist and thumb.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication.​ Through the use of anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen, you can reduce swelling and relieve your pain.
  • Activity Modification.​ By modifying the way you use your wrist and thumb or avoiding the movement all together you may be able to allow the symptoms to go away on their own.
  • Steroid Injection.​​ A stronger anti-inflammatory injection, like a corticosteroid, in the wrist can reduce swelling and pain.

Surgical Treatment
If you rupture your tendon sheath (which holds the ECU tendon in place) you will likely need surgery.