De Quervain's tenosynovitis is an irritation of tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb. These tendons pass through a tunnel-like tissue, called a sheath, at the wrist. The tunnel area can cause additional pressure and irritation on thickened or swollen tendons, making normal movements painful.
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De Quervain’s is caused by pressure on already irritated tendons as they move through the sheath at the wrist. The irritation of the tendon may be caused by repetitive movements of the thumb and wrists or a direct blow to the area.
De Quervain's tenosynovitis is more common in women. Activities that may increase your chance of getting de Quervain's tenosynovitis include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked to move your fingers and wrists in different ways to help make the diagnosis. Your may be asked to make a fist with your thumb inside your fingers and bend your wrist toward your little finger. If this causes pain at the wrist below your thumb, you may have de Quervain's tenosynovitis.
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and help you regain function. Supportive care may include:
If supportive care is not helpful, then cortisone injections may be advised to reduce swelling. If injection are not helpful, then surgery may be advised to open the tunnel that the tendon is passing through.
To help reduce the chances of getting de Quervain's:
American College of Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
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de Quervain syndrome. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/hand_disorders/de_quervain_syndrome.html. Updated March 2013. Accessed February 29, 2016.
de Quervian tendinitis (de Quervian tendinosis). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00007. Updated December 2013. Accessed February 29, 2016.
de Quervain tenosynovitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 20, 2015. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Johnson CA. Occurrence of de Quervain's disease in postpartum women—pain and tenderness in wrist. J Fam Pract. 1991 Mar;32(3):325-327.
4/30/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Petit Le Manac'h A1, Roquelaure Y, Ha C, Bodin J, Meyer G. Risk factors for de Quervain's disease in a French working population. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2011 Sep;37(5):394-401.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT Last Updated: 4/30/2014