De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
(De Quervain’s Syndrome; De Quervain’s Disease; Washerwoman’s Sprain)
Pronounced: DEE-KUR-vains TEE-no-SIGH-no-VY-tis
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
De Quervain's tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the sheaths of the tendons (tenosynovium) that move the thumb away from the hand. It is technically referred to as a stenosing tenosynovitis. Both the tendons and their surrounding tissue sheaths are involved in the area where the tendon has to go through a small tunnel of bony and fibrous tissue at the wrist. The inflamed tenosynovium becomes painful at the tunnel area.
Treatment includes rest and medications. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
De Quervain’s is a mechanical problem caused by repetitive use of the thumb and wrists. A direct blow to the area may also cause the condition.
Risk Factors TOP
De Quervian's tenosynovitis is more common in women. Other factors that may increase your chance of getting de Quervian's tenosynovitis include:
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The Finkelstein test is often done to help make the diagnosis. 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.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Nonsurgical methods to help relieve pain include:
An injection of a cortisone-like drug into the tendon sheath is often effective in curing the condition.
When all else fails, an orthopedic surgeon will open up the small tunnel of bony and fibrous tissue and possibly remove some of the tendon sheath. This will allow more freedom of movement for the tendons.
To help reduce your chances of getting de Quervain's, minimize repetitive twisting and gripping activities.
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American College of Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Physical Therapy Canada
Best treatment for de Quervain's tenosynovitis uncertain. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(3):536.
Corticosteroid injection for treatment of de Quervain's tenosynovitis: a pooled quantitative literature evaluation. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2003;16(2):102-6.
de Quervain syndrome. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckma.... Updated March 2013. Accessed May 6, 2013.
de Quervian tendinitis (de Quervian tendinosis). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00007. Updated October 2007. Accessed May 6, 2013.
de Quervain tenosynovitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated July 13, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013.
Johnson CA. Occurrence of de Quervain's disease in postpartum women—pain and tenderness in wrist. J Fam Pract. 1991 Mar;32(3):325-7.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 5/6/2013