A tendon is thick bendable tissue that connects muscle to bone. Two tendons run from the back of your thumb down the side of your wrist. De Quervain’s tendinitis is caused when these tendons are swollen and irritated.
The constant lifting of children can put strain on the tendons in the wrist. De Quervain’s tendonitis can also be caused by sports such as tennis, golf, or rowing .
If you have De Quervain’s tendinitis, you may notice:
De Quervain’s tendinitis is usually treated with rest, splints, certain medicines, changes in activities, and exercises.
In some cases, your doctor may give you a shot of a medicine called “cortisone.” This medicine can help decrease pain and swelling.
If your tendinitis is a chronic injury, you may need surgery. This surgery will give the tendon more room to slide without rubbing on the tunnel wall.
Ice your wrist for 20 minutes of every hour while awake. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medications at the store.
The best therapy is to rest your wrist. Keep your wrist immobile for at least 1 week. You can do this with a wrist splint.
Wear a wrist splint during any sports or activities that could put stress on your wrist.
Once you can move your wrist without pain, you can start light stretching to increase strength and movement.
Your doctor may recommend a physical therapist who will work with you so that you can return to normal activity as soon as possible.
To increase strength and flexibility, do light stretching exercises. One exercise you can practice is squeezing a tennis ball:
Before and after:
The best way for the tendons to heal is to stick to a care plan. The more you rest and practice exercises, the quicker your injury will heal.
Follow-up with your healthcare provider if:
O'Neill CJ. de Quervain tenosynovitis. In: Frontera: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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