All About De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Feb 13, 2024
misc image
Feeling pain in your thumb and wrist? You’re probably experiencing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Read on to find out what it is and how to treat it.

You might not know the name of this condition off the top of your head, but if you’ve ever experienced painful inflammation and swelling around your thumb tendons, you know the feeling it causes.

It’s called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, and here at Carolina Joint and Arthritis, we can provide relief from this form of tendonitis.

Here’s what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis:

What is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a form of tendonitis that causes painful inflammation around your thumb tendons. The name comes from the Swiss surgeon who first described the condition in 1895, Fritz De Quervain.

Tenosynovitis refers to inflammation of the protective sheath that surrounds your tendons, strong cords that connect your muscles to your bones. Tendons are surrounded by a synovial membrane full of fluid that protects the tendons and helps them move smoothly.

When this membrane becomes irritated, it can swell, thicken, and become inflamed, which causes extra friction when your thumb tendon moves, making certain thumb and wrist movements very painful.

De Quervain’s is the most common form of tenosynovitis, affecting about 1% of people in the United States each year.

What are the symptoms?

This condition is caused by anything that irritates your thumb tendons. This could be a  repetitive motion that you do while gripping an object, such as playing a sport like tennis, using a hammer, lifting children, or even gardening. It could also be caused by a health condition such as arthritis, or an injury in which you’re hit on the thumb or wrist.

The main symptom of De Quervain’s is pain in your wrist on the same side as your thumb. The pain can develop over time or appear suddenly. The pain usually gets worse when you use that hand or thumb and when you’re gripping an object. You can also sometimes feel the pain spread into your thumb and forearm.

Other symptoms include a popping or snapping feeling in your wrist when you move your thumb, and stiffness, numbness, or swelling in your wrist or thumb. 

How can you treat it?

Treatments usually start by immobilizing your thumb and wrist to give your tendons time to heal. This can be accomplished with the use of a splint or brace, along with rest from the sport or activity that caused the problem. Icing your wrist can help relieve swelling and pain (wrap ice in a towel and place it on your wrist for 20 minutes a few times a day).

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help; a corticosteroid prescription shot can give you relief from the pain as well. 

Here at Carolina Joint and Arthritis, we also offer regenerative therapies to treat tendonitis. These treatments include PRP therapy (platelet-rich plasma), in which your own platelet-rich blood is injected at the site of the injury to jump-start the healing process, and the Tenex procedure, which uses ultrasound to remove scar tissue on tendons.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, our team at Carolina Joint and Arthritis is here to help. Just call our Wilmington, North Carolina, office at 910-659-9597 or use our easy online scheduler to book an appointment anytime.