Medical Library: Wrist – DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis

DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is characterized by pain on the thumb side of the wrist due to inflammation of the tendons at the base of the thumb. It may be caused by a strain injury from repetitive activities involving hand or wrist motion such as holding a baby, lifting young children, lifting heavy files or gardening. Symptoms typically include pain at the base of the thumb that may be more pronounced with activities that involve grasping or pinching. There may be swelling and a “catching” sensation with thumb motion.

Early treatment is important. A hand therapist fabricates a custom splint that immobilizes both the wrist and thumb and individuals are taught specific motion exercises to enhance tendon gliding and not contribute to the inflammation.  Modalities such as ice/heat and ultrasound have been shown to be helpful with pain relief and blood flow. Education is important and daily activities that contribute to the individual’s DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis are discussed and recommendations are given for modification of these activities.

Hand therapy after surgery is very important. This may include controlling of post-operative swelling and pain, specific motion exercises to the wrist and hand, scar management, desensitization of the scar, and graded strengthening.

Wrist therapy is performed at our Certified Hand Center, located in Rockford.
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