Medical definitions

Question: Operation on 11-16-99. Joint got staph infection, 7 week of K-Flex through PICC line to the heart, elbow still hurts after physical therapy with 3 pounds of weight, and wrist bothers me too. Carpal tunnel was done at the same time. 4 months is a long time to be off work with what was to be a simple operation. I still have the other arm to go. Lateral and medial tendonitis on this one was well as severe carpal tunnel. I originally got all of these symptoms on 5-97. Work: Computer and doctor said, “Let’s let time take care of it”. Well it did not work. If anything there was only more tearing and scarring. Two EMG’s showed no nerve damage so they really felt I didn’t have carpal tunnel. Anyone else got any suggestions as to how long this will go on? Almost 3 years since first symptoms appeared. Will it ever go away? Doctor said I’m his hardest patient. After all I’ve read on RSI, I don’t believe he knows much.

Comment 1: Can I ask a ‘noddy’ question? Most of the medics I’ve been dealing with have been very cagy about labelling whatever it is that’s wrong with my fingers/hands/wrists/elbows. So I tend to use “tendonitis/ tinosinivitis/ carpal tunnel/ RSI“. Last time I saw my occupational therapist she told me I didn’t have RSI but tendonitis, which is completely different, which left me rather confused. I have yet to ask my GP – she’s a lovely woman but relatively happy to admit she’s not an expert in the matter. Could someone explain – in basic words – what the differences are?

Comment 2: R.S.I. is a term that covers much impairment. I think your occupational therapist needs a holiday in toy town. Repetitive(R) Strain(S) is the cause. The injury(I) can be any one of those that you listed and more. I know that this is very basic and that it is difficult to imagine that a qualified health professional could be so ill educated in their own field, unfortunately it is often in true. Why do we always accept “professional” information without question and then blame ourselves because we do not understand that they are wrong? This was not a Noddy question but yet another “toy town professional”.

Comment 3: “Tendonitis/tendinitis” is listed in the books I’ve looked at and on web pages as one of the forms of RSI. It’s one of the “diffuse” RSIs.

Comment 4:

  • RSI – blanket term for conditions caused by repetition/strain including tendinitis/tenosynovitis/carpal tunnel.
  • Tendinitis – inflammation of a tendon, usually due to overuse. Tendon will be swollen, tense and tender.
  • Tenosynovitis – inflammation and swelling of a tendon, especially in the wrist, typically caused by repetitive movement.
  • Carpal tunnel – pain and tingling in fingers/hand caused by pressure on median nerve as it passes under the strong ligament that lies across the front of the wrist.

Interestingly, there seems little difference in the medical definition of tendinitis and tenosynovitis, but only a diagnosis of tenosynovitis gives entitlement to Industrial Injuries Benefit. Convenient? Hope these definitions are what you were after.

Comment 5: Tenosynovitis is what you get from holding one of those road vibrator break-up-tarmac things all day, I believe. That’s probably the route by which it got into the qualifying diagnoses.

Comment 6: Yes, very, the original and presumably correct definition of tenosynovitis includes the erosion of the sinovium (OK I may have a good osteopath but he’s never written the word down – please correct spelling. Which is the tube in which the tendon runs – like a brake cable. It does not regrow – The symptoms are the same, it is assumed that one is permanent but the other is temporary.

Comment 7: Yes – that is what my tenosynovitis is. The tubes/sheaths tear and adhere to the tendon. A US practitioner (a complementary/alternative medicine one) told me that if the right treatment isn’t given quickly then an operation is the only answer. But operation for this often don’t work.


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