DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis

What is DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis (ten-oh-sin-oh-VY-tis)?

  • It’s an inflammation of tissue on the thumb side
  • Tendons (cordlike fibers that attach muscle to bone) and synovium ( a slick membrane that allows the tendons to move easily) become irritated and cause pain

What are the Causes?

  • Making the same motions over and over–such as repeatedly unscrewing jar lids, grasping a tool
  • An injury to the thumb side of the wrist

What are the Symptoms?

  • Most commonly, it is pain on the thumb side of the wrist
  • Pain when pinch or grasp things, turn or twist your wrist, or make a fist. The thumb may also “catch” when you bend it
  • Thumb side of the wrist may be tender to the touch
  • May feel a “small knot”

Getting a Diagnosis

To diagnose DeQuervain’s, your doctor may ask you to make a fist with your fingers over your thumb. He will then gently bend your wrist toward your little finger. Sharp pain in the wrist is a sign that the tendons are inflamed.

How is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis Treated?

  • Nonsurgical
    • Take a break from the activities which cause you pain
    • Take oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin
    • Wear a splint for a few weeks to rest the thumb and wrist
    • To reduce swelling, your doctor may inject an anti-inflammatory, such as cortisone, around the tendons
  • Surgical
    To help reduce the inflammation and straighten to your thumb without pain, under local anesthetic the sheath that surrounds the tendons is released so the tendons can move more easily. You can go home the same day. While healing, you will probably have a splint or dressing on your wrist for a few days.
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