Definition

What is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will possibly hurt when you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist. Although the exact cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis isn’t still known, any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement, such as working in the garden, playing golf or racket sports, or lifting your baby, can make it worse.

How common is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

In case, you are between the ages of 30 and 50, you may have a higher risk of developing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis than do other age groups, including children. The condition is more common in women.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

The common symptoms of of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis are:

  • Pain near the base of your thumb
  • Swelling near the base of your thumb
  • Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist when you’re doing something that involves grasping or pinching
  • A “sticking” or “stop-and-go” sensation in your thumb when moving it

If the patient lets the condition go too long without treatment, the pain may spread further into your thumb, back into your forearm or both. Pinching, grasping and other movements of your thumb and wrist aggravate the pain.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

It is believed that chronic overuse of your wrist is commonly associated with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. You should know that tendons are rope-like structures that attach muscle to bone. When you grip, grasp, clench, pinch or wring anything in your hand, two tendons in your wrist and lower thumb normally glide smoothly through the small tunnel that connects them to the base of the thumb. Repeating a particular motion day after day may irritate the sheath around the two tendons, causing thickening and swelling that restricts their movement.

However, doctors also find out some other causes of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Direct injury to your wrist or tendon; scar tissue can restrict movement of the tendons
  • Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Risk factors

What increases my risk for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

Age

In case, you are between the ages of 30 and 50, you may have a higher risk of developing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis than do other age groups, including children.

Sex

The condition is more common in women.

Being pregnant

The condition may be associated with pregnancy.

Baby care

Lifting your child repeatedly involves using your thumbs as leverage and may also be associated with the condition.

Jobs or hobbies that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions

These may contribute to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Your doctor will also perform a Finkelstein test, in which you bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb. Then you bend your wrist toward your little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, you likely have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, generally aren’t needed to diagnose de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. 

How is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis treated?

The purpose of treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is reducing inflammation, preserving movement in the thumb and preventing recurrence. In case you start treatment early, your symptoms should improve within four to six weeks. If your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis starts during pregnancy, symptoms are likely to end around the end of either pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Some recommended treatments might include:

Medications

To reduce pain and swelling, your doctor may recommend using over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve).

Your doctor may also recommend injections of corticosteroid medications into the tendon sheath to reduce swelling. If treatment begins within the first six months of symptoms, most people recover completely after receiving corticosteroid injections, often after just one injection.

Therapy

Initial treatment of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis may include:

  • Immobilizing your thumb and wrist, keeping them straight with a splint or brace to help rest your tendons
  • Avoiding repetitive thumb movements as much as possible
  • Avoiding pinching with your thumb when moving your wrist from side to side
  • Applying ice to the affected area
  • You may also see a physical or occupational therapist. These therapists may review how you use your wrist and give suggestions on how to make adjustments to relieve stress on your wrists. Your therapist can also teach you exercises for your wrist, hand and arm to strengthen your muscles, reduce pain and limit tendon irritation.

Surgery

If your case is more serious, your doctor may recommend outpatient surgery. Surgery involves a procedure in which your doctor inspects the sheath surrounding the involved tendon or tendons, and then opens the sheath to release the pressure so your tendons can glide freely.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

Following these useful tips can help you to prevent this condition:

  • Avoid moving your wrists the same way repeatedly.
  • Wear a brace or splint if suggested by your doctor.
  • Follow through with recommended exercises.
  • Note activity that causes pain, swelling or numbness in your thumb and wrist, try to avoid it, and share that information with your doctor.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 14, 2017 | Last Modified: August 14, 2017

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