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De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis | Orchard Health Clinic

What is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or De Quervain’s Syndrome is a painful condition that affects the tendons in the wrist. It occurs when the two tendons around the base of your thumb become swollen. The swelling causes the sheaths (casings) covering the tendons to become inflamed. This puts pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain and numbness.

What causes De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Chronic overuse of the wrist is commonly associated with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Tendons are rope-like structures that attach muscle to bone. When gripping, grasping, clenching, pinching or wringing anything in the hand, two tendons in the 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. Other causes of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis include direct injury to the wrist or tendon, scar tissue that can restrict the movement of the tendons, or inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis include pain near the base of the thumb, swelling near the base of the thumb, and difficulty moving the thumb and wrist when doing something that involves grasping or pinching. A “sticking” or “stop-and-go” sensation in the thumb when moving it. If the condition goes too long without treatment, the pain may spread further into the thumb, back into the forearm, or both. Pinching, grasping and other movements of the thumb and wrist aggravate the pain.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Treatment

Physical therapy can help with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Reducing pain and inflammation will be the first step to treating De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Activities especially those that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions are initially refrained. Manual therapy will be done to prevent further stress on the tendon, along with Cryotherapy or therapeutic ultrasound therapy to reduce any inflammation. As treatment progresses, personalised exercises will be prescribed to help relieve any tightness in the wrist and forearms. Lifestyle recommendations and functional training will be taught to prevent recurrence of injury. If in doubt, please seek professional advice.

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