Do You Know What De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Is?

Gardeners, tennis players, golfers, and heavy-lifters can develop a painful condition that irritates the side of your wrist where you thumb rests. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis: This condition has a complex name, but clear symptoms.

The exact cause of de Quervain’s is not understood, but usually results when the wrist and hand are subject to repetitive movement.

Symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Our team here at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists looks for a number of symptoms when diagnosing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. These include:

As the condition progresses, you may get pain that radiates into your forearm or just farther into your thumb.

Why de Quervain’s tenosynovitis develops

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis develops as a result of irritation of the tendons at the wrist and lower thumb. Repetitive movement irritates the sheath, or covering, around these tendons. The area swells and thickens, restricting movement.

It’s not clear why some people develop de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, but usually it results from excessive gaming, racquet sports, extensive gardening, or repetitive workplace tasks. People with rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions are especially susceptible.

If you’re between the ages of 30 and 50, you are more likely to develop the syndrome, and women comprise 80% of cases. You’re particularly at risk right after pregnancy.

Treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis

At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, we seek to ease inflammation and pain and make it unlikely you’ll have repeat cases of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be a first step in reducing swelling, and if those don’t succeed, your doctor may inject steroids into the tendon area.

When treated within six months of noticing symptoms, your de Quervain’s tenosynovitis may resolve completely, and you might need no further treatment.

A splint that immobilizes your wrist and thumb can help keep the area still and reduce the aggravation that causes flare-ups. You wear this splint 24 hours per day for as long as six weeks.

In stubborn, persistent cases of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, the doctors at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists may recommend surgery. This outpatient procedure releases the covering of your tendon at the thumb/wrist juncture so movement smooths out.

How to help healing along

Take steps at home to help your healing along. Ice whenever you feel pain or discomfort and avoid activities that make it feel worse. Pinching and repetitive motions using your fingers and thumb aggravate de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Follow all of your doctor’s advice, and wear your splint for the duration of treatment — even if your symptoms start to ease up. And if you’ve been given physical therapy exercises, make sure you do them.

If you have pain in your wrist and thumb that suggests de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, don’t sit on it and hope it goes away. The longer you wait to get treatment, the more ingrained your symptoms become, and it becomes harder to heal the condition. Contact us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists when you notice symptoms so we can treat the condition right away and you can avoid long-term complications.

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