De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis) is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt when you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.
Causes and risk factors
Chronic overuse of your wrist is commonly associated with this condition. Tendons are rope-like structures that attach muscle to bone. When you grip, grasp, clench, pinch or wring anything in your hand, two tendons in your 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.
- If you’re between the ages of 30 and 50, you have a higher risk of developing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis than do other age groups, including children.
- The condition is more common in women.
- The condition may be associated with pregnancy.
- Lifting your child repeatedly involves using your thumbs as leverage and may also be associated with the condition.
- Jobs or hobbies that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions may contribute.
- Pain near the base of your thumb
- Swelling near the base of your thumb
- Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist when you’re doing something that involves grasping or pinching
- A “sticking” or “stop-and-go” sensation in your thumb when moving it
Treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is aimed at reducing inflammation, preserving movement in the thumb and preventing recurrence. If you start treatment early, your symptoms should improve within four to six weeks. If your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis starts during pregnancy, symptoms are likely to end around the end of either pregnancy or breast-feeding. If your case is more serious, your doctor may recommend outpatient surgery.