What Is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis?
DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the two wrist tendons located at the base of the thumb, which are encased within a protective sheath. Due to repetitive wrist motion, the tendon sheath can become irritated and inflamed. In addition to pressuring nearby nerves, the resulting swelling can squeeze the tendons, restrict their movement, and interfere with their function.
Some common activities that can lead to the development of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include carrying a child, holding heavy shopping bags by the handles, playing racquet sports, skiing, hammering, and gardening.
What Are the Symptoms of DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis?
The hallmark sign of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is pain that originates at the base of the thumb and travels upward through the forearm. The pain may strike suddenly or develop gradually and worsen with wrist, hand, or thumb use. As the inflamed tendons rub against each other during movement, a “squeaking” sound or “snapping” sensation may occur, and a small, firm nodule may form at the base of the thumb. Other symptoms of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include visible swelling at the base of the thumb, difficulty pinching or grasping objects, and tingling sensations that radiate along the back of the thumb.
How Is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis Treated?
In most cases, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is a temporary condition that resolves after a few weeks of conservative treatment. Some potentially effective options include:
- Rest and activity modifications to minimize movement of the affected wrist and thumb
- Ice applications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Strengthening exercises
- Corticosteroid injections
Additionally, a physician or occupational therapist can provide advice on how to perform daily activities without overstressing the wrist tendons. If conservative treatment does not provide sufficient symptom relief, a surgical procedure may be suggested to create more space for the tendons to move within their sheath.
If you’re interested in exploring your treatment options for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, you can consult with Peter D. Vizzi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who practices in Lafayette, Louisiana. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.