A woman with De Quervain's tenosynovitis holds her thumb due to pain.

Is This Serious? Why Does My Thumb Hurt?

pt HealthIs this serious?, Limb pain

Your Thumb Pain Could Be De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

If you’re experiencing pain, pinching or swelling at the base of your thumb, it could be de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (pronounced dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis).

Today we’ll address thumb tendon pain that happens at the base of the thumb, a possible cause, and treatment options.

If you’re seeking medical care for your symptoms, find a physiotherapy clinic near you and book an assessment for thumb pain today.

Symptoms of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Thumb Pain

Do you feel a slight pinch when you grab something or flick your wrist?

Do you have difficulty gripping, holding, or graphing objects?

Does it hurt when you push on the area between the thumb and the wrist?

This pain and limited mobility are the symptoms we’re addressing today. Over time, that pinch and catching feeling can develop into pain that travels up the forearm.

People with de Quervain’s often experience:

  • Pain when grasping or pinching something
  • Swelling and/or inflammation where the thumbs meets the wrist
  • Difficulty with turning the wrist inward
  • Pain along the top of the thumb

Have you noticed these symptoms of thumb pain and feel concerned? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist near you today.

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Causes of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Thumb Pain

While the exact cause of de Quervain’s is debated, it is thought to be a repetitive strain injury.

de Quervain’s occurs when the sheath surrounding the two tendons in your thumbs becomes irritated, causing swelling and thickening of the tendon that then restricts movement.

This condition is common for people repeat a particular movement day after day, such as people that:

  • Play a lot of video games
  • Use or hold a cell phone for long periods of time
  • Type a lot, use a mouse, or a computer often
  • Have injured their wrist
  • Have rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory arthritis

If you’re concerned that any of these habits have led to your thumb pain, book an assessment with a physiotherapist near you today.

Treatments for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Thumb Pain

If you are experiencing thumb pain at the base as a result of gaming, using a mouse, or cell phone, you should seek an assessment from a physiotherapist.

When caught early, treatment for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is simple and straightforward with many patients seeing a noticeable improvement in about 4 to 6 weeks.

Non-surgical physiotherapy-focused treatments for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis include:

  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Activity modification
  • Splinting
  • Deep tissue massage

If caught and treated early and effectively you can see an improvement in symptoms within a relatively short period of time.

Book A Physiotherapy Assessment for Thumb Pain

If you’re concerned about thumb pain or think you might have de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, book an appointment with a qualified physiotherapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place. No doctor referral needed!*

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*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance


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