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De Quervain's Tenosynovitis


  • De Quervain's tendonitis is a painful condition characterized by pain and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist. The pain is worse when lifting objects or when pinching with the thumb.  In severe cases, the pain may especially be present at night and the wrist may be sore to the touch. Swelling or enlargement on the thumb side of the wrist may be visible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What causes De Quervain's Tendonitis?

A:  De Quervain's is inflammation around the tendons of two distinct muscles called the abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis. The tendons on the side and back of the wrist run through a 'pulley', analogous to a fishing line running through the eyelets of a fishing pole. Though usually sliding smoothly, inflammation/swelling can cause the tendon to get caught in the pulley. 

Q:  Who gets De Quervain's Tendonitis?

A:  Any adult can develop De Quervain's tendonitis at any age. Repetitive motion of the wrist and/or trauma to the thumb side of the wrist can bring on this condition. Diabetes, pregnancy and thyroid disease are occasionally associated with De Quervain's tendonitis.

Q:  What are my treatment options?

A:  Initial treatment is rest and an oral anti-inflammatory.  If symptoms persist then a cortisone injection at the site to decrease swelling is indicated.  If the problem returns, surgical treatment is curative. The procedure involves an outpatient surgery where a small incision wherein the doctor releases the first extensor compartment and a soft splint is then prescribed for 10 days until the sutures are removed.

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