DeQuervain's tendinitis is a painful problem which
results from irritation of tendons on the side of the wrist which move
the thumb sideways away from the palm. It can result in wrist and
forearm pain on the side of the thumb, particularly with certain
positions and movements of the wrist.
It is most often noticed after unaccustomed activity involving repeated
lifting or side to side motion of the wrist. It can also develop for no
clear reason. The problem is due to irritation of two tendons at a point
where they run through a very tight channel ("the first dorsal
compartment") from the forearm to the thumb. Many people have two small
separate channels for the tendons and are particularly predisposed to
Avoid wrist positions and activities which are painful,
Ice for five to fifteen minutes at a a time on the area which is most
swollen and tender.
"Over the counter" non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID),
such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naprosyn, Check with your pharmacist
regarding possible side effects and drug interactions.
A splint or brace which supports both the wrist and the thumb. A wrist
support splint which doesn't support the thumb is not as effective as
one that does.
Physiotherapy can provide a variety of hand splints to support the thumb
and the wrist. Also they can help identify aggravating activities and
suggest alternative postures.
Massage, heat, ice and other treatments aimed at making the area more
comfortable can also be tried
Prescribe stronger NSAID medication or cortisone-type medication.
Prescribe hand therapy and/or a custom prescription splint.
Give a cortisone shot into the area of the most irritation.
Perform surgery to enlarge the tight channel so that the tendons no
Many people with mild symptoms will improve with a limited period of
anti-inflammatory medication and avoiding painful activities, especially
if the problem developed during unaccustomed strenuous activities. It is
less likely to resolve if it is related to light repetitive work
A cortisone shot into the sore area helps most people - at least
temporarily. When temporary, relief usually lasts about two months. One
or two shots provide permanent relief for as many as two out of three
people with this problem.
Surgery helps over four out of five people with this problem, but as
many as one out of five will have a new problem after surgery, such as
numbness on the back of the hand or tenderness of the scar.