Intersection syndrome

Background

Intersection syndrome is a collection of symptoms resulting from inflammation at the wrist where some of the tendons (abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, extensor carpi racialis brevis, and extensor carpi radialis longus) cross each other.

 

     

Causes

Repetitive action of the wrist are usually the cause of the inflammation that leads to intersection syndrome.

 

Symptoms

Pain is the main symptom, which may start as a mild ache around the back of the wrist and spread to the back of the forearm. There may be associated swelling and tenderness.

 

Treatment - non-surgical

Often resting the hand and avoiding the activities which caused the problem to begin with are sufficient. A splint may also be helpful, together with painkillers. You may find a steroid injection helpful. This may be given if there is uncertainty as to how much of your symptoms are coming from the area around the tendons and how much from elsewhere.

 

Treatment - surgical

When symptoms persist despite non-surgical treatment, surgery may be advised. The surgery is performed through a cut near the wrist. The tendons are released to allow them to move more freely.

 

Physiotherapy / rehabilitation after surgery

You will be advised of exercises to prevent the hand and wrist from getting stiff. The physiotherapists will also be able to advise you on alternative ways of carrying out activities to avoid excessive strain on the tendons as they recover.

 

Outcome

Modifying your activities and wearing a splint is often sufficient for most people in the early stages of intersection syndrome. When non-surgical treatments have failed, surgery usually provides a reliable improvement in pain and function.

 

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