De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. It affects specific tendons which function in extending the joints in the thumb. It causes pain when turning the wrist, grasping an object and making a fist.
Symptoms of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
- Swelling of the wrist
- Pain can be felt at the back of the thumb when making a fist, grasping an object and turning the wrist.
- Stiffness when moving the wrist or thumb
- Numbness in the thumb and the index finger
- Pain and swelling at the bottom of the thumb
- Difficulty in moving the thumb especially when grasping or pinching an object
- A “sticking” or “stop-and-go” sensations can be felt in the area with movement
- Performing repetitive hand and wrist movements.
- Injuring the wrist, and scar tissue prevents movement of the tendons
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Take plenty of rest especially the affected area for at least 1 week.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such ibuprofen and naproxen or acetaminophen to lessen the pain and the inflammation.
- Injections of corticosteroid medication on the tendon sheath to lessen the swelling and for fast healing of the condition.
- Immobilize the thumb and wrist using a prescribed splint or brace to keep the affected area straight, prevent unnecessary movements, rest the tendons and for fast healing. Use the splint for at least 24 hours every day for 4-6 weeks to rest the thumb and wrist.
- Avoid performing repetitive movements of the thumb as much as possible to prevent further damage and worse the condition.
- Avoid pinching using the thumb when moving the wrist from side to side.
- Apply ice on the affected area for at least 20 minutes while awake to lessen the pain and the swelling. Avoid ice directly on the skin. Wrap ice with a towel or a cloth before placing to the area to prevent ice burns and worsen the condition.
- Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises, lessen the stress on the wrist, strengthen the muscles and lessen the pain and the irritations on the tendon.
- Before and after performing any activity, apply heating pad or a hot compress for at least 10-15 minutes on the wrist to warm the area.
- Massage the area that surrounds the wrist and thumb to loosen up the muscles.
- To make the area flexible and strong, perform light stretching exercise such as squeezing a tennis ball. Gently squeeze the ball and put more pressure as long as there is no pain. Hold that position for at least 5 seconds and then release the grip. Repeat this process at least 5-10 times every day.