What is de quervain's tenosynovitis?

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis: Overview

De Quervain's (say "duh-kair-VAZ") tenosynovitis is a problem that makes the bottom of your thumb and the side of your wrist hurt. When you have de Quervain's, the ropey fiber (tendon) that helps move your thumb away from your fingers becomes swollen.

You may have pain when you move your wrist or pick things up. You may hear a creaking sound when you move your wrist or thumb.

Symptoms often get better in a few weeks with home care. Your doctor may want you to start some gentle stretching exercises once your symptoms are gone. Sometimes treatment with an injection or surgery is needed.

De Quervain's tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is swelling and inflammation of the tendons and the tendon sheath on the thumb side of the wrist.

The exact cause of de Quervain's is not known. It may occur from injury to the wrist or tendon. Or it may occur as a result of activities that require repeated wrist and thumb movements, such as knitting, wringing clothes, or lifting heavy objects.

Symptoms may include swelling, a grating feeling in the wrist, and pain and weakness along the thumb, wrist, and forearm. Pain increases with activities such as lifting or pouring.

Initial treatment consists of rest, splinting, stretching, and medicines to reduce inflammation. Physical therapy, a steroid injection, or surgery may sometimes be needed.

What are the symptoms of de Quervain's tenosynovitis?

De Quervain's may cause pain when you twist your wrist. You might also have pain if you grab something between your thumb and fingers. Many people hear a squeak, snap, or creak when they move the wrist or thumb. Sometimes de Quervain's can cause a small bump on the thumb side of the wrist.

How is de Quervain's tenosynovitis treated?

The goal of treatment for de Quervain's is to relieve the pain and swelling in your thumb and wrist and to restore normal function. Your doctor may give you a steroid shot in your wrist area. You may need more than one. If that doesn't help, your doctor might talk to you about surgery.

How is de Quervain's tenosynovitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will check for swelling, tenderness, or numbness around the base of the thumb. They'll also listen for crackling or popping when you move your thumb. Your doctor may also use the Finkelstein test to help diagnose de Quervain's. This is done to make sure that you don't have a different problem.

How can you care for yourself when you have de Quervain's tenosynovitis?

Symptoms often get better with home care. Until they do, stop the activities that caused the pain. Also, avoid moving the hand and wrist that hurt. If your doctor gave you a splint, follow their directions for wearing it. You can also ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine.

What causes de Quervain's tenosynovitis?

People can get de Quervain's when they hurt or use the thumb or wrist too much. Common activities that need your wrist and thumb can cause the problem. Some activities that might cause de Quervain's are:

  • Wringing out wet clothes.
  • Hammering.
  • Skiing.
  • Knitting.
  • Lifting heavy objects such as a jug of milk, taking a frying pan off of the stove, or lifting a baby out of a crib.

If you are pregnant or if you have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, you are more likely to get de Quervain's. More women than men have de Quervain's. You can get the disease at any age. Most people who have de Quervain's are women between the ages of 30 and 50.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

Tendon affected by de Quervain's tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is swelling and inflammation of the tendons and the tendon sheath on the thumb side of the wrist.

De Quervain's tenosynovitis: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new or worse numbness or tingling in your hand or fingers.
  • Your hand feels weaker.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.