Intersection Syndrome

What is Intersection Syndrome?

Intersection syndrome is an overuse wrist injury characterized by irritation and swelling of the back side or radial side (the side of the wrist by the thumb) of the wrist and forearm.

What causes Intersection Syndrome?

It is also called “oarsman’s wrist” because it is commonly diagnosed in athletes competing in sports with repetitive wrist movements like rowing. It also affects racquet sport athletes and people who participate in weight training. These repetitive movements lead to inflammation of the radial wrist extensor tendons.

The condition may also be caused by overuse activities that involve lots of wrist movements, such as:

  • Typing
  • Writing
  • Skiing
  • Playing musical instruments

How is it Diagnosed?

Because the symptoms of intersection syndrome are similar to De Quervain’s Tendinitis, it is important to have the symptoms evaluated by an orthopedic hand specialist. The diagnostic process begins with a physical exam of the wrist looking for tenderness and swelling. Dr. Donnelly will also feel for “crepitus” which is a crackling or squeaking of the tendons as they are moved.

Treatment Options

Regardless of the cause, intersection syndrome can be effectively treated using nonsurgical treatment options.

Non Surgical

Treatment may include any, all, or any combination of the following:
  • Activity modification. Slowing down or stopping activities that produce pain.
  • Splinting or bracing A splint or brace helps hold the wrist in a neutral position.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Over-the-counter and prescription medications that decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Cortisone injections Anti-inflammatory medication is injected into the affected area.
  • Hand therapy Different types of treatment modalities and stretching and strengthening exercises.
When patients adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by their orthopedic hand specialist, they can expect to see a steady decrease in pain that is caused by intersection syndrome.

Recovery Time

Recovery time will depend on the severity of the condition and the method of treatment used. In some cases, Doctor Donnelly may recommend physical therapy to restore proper movement to the wrist following treatment. It is also recommended that patients recovering from intersection syndrome wear a brace when performing repetitive wrist movements.