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de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

What is de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is the painful swelling of the two tendons that run from the forearms through the thumb and lower wrist. These tendons pass through a narrow sheath and may rub against each other, causing pain and swelling at the base of the thumb. de Quervain’s may also be known as; gamer’s thumb, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, de Quervain’s disease, de Quervain’s syndrome, de Quervain’s tendinosis, de Quervain’s tendinitis; de Quervain tendinopathy, BlackBerry thumb, texting thumb, washerwoman’s sprain, radial styloid tenosynovitis, de Quervain’s stenosing, designer’s thumb.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

The exact causes of de Quervain’s is unknown however overuse, an injury to the wrist, and inflammatory arthritis are all common factors that can lead to developing the condition. Risk factors to be aware of that can lead to de Quervain’s include:

  • Injury or hit to the thumb or wrist
  • Gaming
  • Playing racket sports
  • Playing an instrument
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Using or holding a cell phone for long periods of time
  • Typing a lot, using a mouse, or a computer often
  • Lifting a baby or carrying a child a lot
  • Being pregnant, de Quervain’s happens just after pregnancy
  • Age, de Quervain’s is most common between 30 and 50 years of age
  • Gender, women are more likely to get de Quervain’s

What are the Signs and Symptoms of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

When you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, there is very local damage to the tendons along the base of the thumb. Because many tendons cross the wrist sometimes you hear someone refer to their condition as a general wrist tendonitis. Common symptoms of de Quervain’s include:

  • Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist during activities involving pinching and grasping
  • Difficulty gripping, holding, or grasping objects
  • Pain in thumb that travels up the forearm
  • Pain with direct pressure to the affected area of the thumb and wrist
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Pain along the top of the thumb

How is de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Treated?

Treatment for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is simple and straightforward, many people see an improvement in symptoms in just 4 to 6 weeks. Treatments for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Rest from repetitive activities
  • Over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and swelling
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery

Physiotherapy for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain, improving your range of motion, and reducing swelling. Depending on your individual needs, physical therapy for de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can include:

  • Bracing or splinting the thumb
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Ice therapy
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Activity modification

Can de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis go Away on its own?

Yes, if your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis started during pregnancy, it’s likely that it will resolve itself either by the end of your pregnancy or after breastfeeding. If your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is unrelated to pregnancy, it’s recommended that you seek treatment to recover fully.

Can you Prevent de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

If your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is related to repetitive work tasks or hobbies, you can work to prevent it by taking frequent breaks, practicing good ergonomics, and modifying how you perform repetitive tasks.