- What Is It?
- Symptoms & Signs
What is de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of tendons on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. These tendons include the extensor pollicis brevis and the abductor pollicis longus tendons, which extend the joints of the thumb.
What are causes and risk factors of de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis can be brought on by simple strain injury to the extensor pollicis longus and abductor pollicis tendons (tendinitis). Often this form of tendinitis is a result of repetitive motion injury. Typical causes of de Quervain's tenosynovitis include stresses such as lifting young children into car seats, lifting heavy grocery bags by the loops, and lifting gardening pots up and into place.
Risk factors for de Quervain's tenosynovitis include the following:
- Being female
- Age over 40
- African ethnicity/descent
What are signs and symptoms of de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis causes symptoms of pain and tenderness at the side of the wrist beneath the base of the thumb. Sometimes there is slight swelling and redness in the area.
What tests do physicians use to diagnose de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis is diagnosed based on the typical appearance, location of pain, and tenderness of the affected wrist. De Quervain's tenosynovitis is usually associated with pain when the thumb is folded across the palm and the fingers are flexed over the thumb as the hand is flexed down toward the little finger away from the involved wrist area. (This is referred to as the Finkelstein maneuver.) X-rays and other imaging tests are usually not needed to diagnose de Quervain's tenosynovitis.
What specialties of doctors treat de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis is commonly diagnosed and treated by primary care physicians (PCPs), including general practitioners, family medicine physicians, and internists. Specialists who treat de Quervain's tenosynovitis include orthopedic surgeons, sports-medicine doctors, and rheumatologists. Occupational therapists and physical therapists can be involved in the care of patients with de Quervain's tenosynovitis.
What is the treatment for de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
Treatments for de Quervain's tenosynovitis includes any combination of rest, splinting, ice, anti-inflammation medication, and/or cortisone injection. Cortisone injection is extremely effective and is generally the optimal treatment. Normal activity may be resumed within three weeks after an injection. Surgery to release the tendon sheath is only rarely necessary and usually reserved for persisting inflammation after failure of at least one cortisone injection.
Are there home remedies for de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis can initially be treated with home remedies, including cold packs, resting, and over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Care must be taken to avoid reinjuring the strained tendon at the wrist. For example, young mothers must be very careful about lifting their children without straining the involved side of the wrist.
What is the prognosis with de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
The prognosis for de Quervain's tenosynovitis is excellent. The patient can generally return to full function after the inflammation quiets down with treatment. Sometimes bracing is used during future activities that involve repetitive wrist motion.
Is it possible to prevent de Quervain's tenosynovitis?
De Quervain's tenosynovitis can be prevented by avoiding activities that stress the wrist and avoiding repetitive motion injuries.
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Firestein, Gary S., et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 9th Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2013.
Wolf, J.M., and R.X. Sturdivant, and B.D. Owens. "Incidence of de Quervain's Tenosynovitis in a Young, Active Population." J Hand Surg Am 34.1 Jan. 2009: 112-115.
Top De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Related Articles
Cortisone InjectionCortisone injections are used to treat small areas of inflammation or widespread inflammation throughout the body. There is minimal pain from these injections, and relief from the pain of inflammation occurs rapidly.
ibuprofenIbuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce mild to moderate pain, inflammation, and fever. Ibuprofen works by blocking an enzyme that makes prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance that participates in a variety of body functions), which results in lower levels of prostaglandins in the body. Lower levels of prostaglandins reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. Ibuprofen is prescribed to treat diseases and conditions that cause mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation.
Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn) is in the class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Naproxen is prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate pain, inflammation, and fever. Side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Over-the-Counter ProductsOTC drugs are available without a prescription, simply "over the counter." Find an easy-to-follow format to help you understand which products may work better for specific conditions and how to choose the products that are most appropriate.
Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs)Repetitive motion disorders (RMDs) are muscular conditions that result from repeated motions. Carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, bursitis, and tendonitis are types of RMDs. Symptoms and signs include pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, and loss of strength and flexibility. Treatment involves stopping the activity that's causing symptoms, adopting stretching and relaxation exercises, icing the affected area, and using pain relievers.
When Is a Thumb Injection Needed?A thumb injection is a procedure in which medications are injected into the thumb joint to treat diseases of any joint in the body. The types of injection include corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid, infliximab botulinum neurotoxin (Botox), and platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Thumb injections may be given for such conditions as tenosynovitis, acute monoarticular gout or pseudogout, and rheumatoid arthritis.