De Quervain's tenosynovitis is the most common inflammatory disorder causing pain in the thumb tendons. Expert hand doctors at Franciscan Health offer advanced treatment to reduce swelling and restore function.
Two of the thumb's main tendons pass through a tunnel on the side of the wrist. They are covered by the synovium, a thin soft-tissue layer which forms a sheath. When the tendons swell or the sheath thickens, it causes friction and pain. It may be especially noticeable when you form a fist, grip an object, or perform repetitive motions.
De Quervain's tenosynovitis can result from strain, continual overuse or injury. It often occurs during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuation and fluid retention. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or infection may also be related to De Quervain’s symptoms. It is most common in women ages 45–65.
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis may cause:
Pain may be acute (happen suddenly) or chronic – develop slowly and remain constant over time.
Your doctor will review your health history and give you a physical exam. To make sure no other conditions are causing your symptoms, you may have tests that may include:
Depending on your condition, Franciscan Health specialists can offer a variety of treatment options. Nonsurgical treatment to reduce pain and swelling may include:
Your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections if initial treatments do not work. Injections typically provide relief within a few days and can last for several weeks.
If nonsurgical treatments don't relieve your symptoms, you may require surgery. The expert hand surgeons at Franciscan Health will open the tendon sheath to make more room for the inflamed tendons.
After surgery, you may wear a splint on your hand for one to four weeks and have hand therapy. Complete recovery takes six to 12 weeks.