For those who work with their hands, wrist and thumb pain are common issues. A specific problem with the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist, known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis or tendinosis, can hinder your ability to move this area normally. Fortunately, physicians can treat this painful condition with a few different methods. The following guide explains everything you need to know about de Quervain’s disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis occurs when the two tendons at the base of the thumb swell, causing the sheath to become inflamed and placing pressure on surrounding nerves. This results in friction and pain on the thumb side of the wrist, especially when twisting the wrist or grasping an object. The tenderness will start at the base of the thumb and may spread up the forearm. Swelling and numbness around the thumb may occur. Along with pain, many feel an unsettling snapping sensation when they move their thumb. These symptoms can make moving the thumb and wrist uncomfortable and difficult.

Who Is at Risk? 


In general, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is caused by overuse. You may be at a higher risk of developing this condition if you're a woman, pregnant, or between the ages of 30 and 50. It's also associated with arthritis and wrist injuries, in which scar tissue can limit tendon movement. Activities, hobbies, and jobs that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions, such as baby care, gardening, writing, and tennis, can also trigger de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

How Is It Treated?

See an orthopedic doctor if you're experiencing symptoms. The goal of treatment will be to reduce inflammation and pain, improve range of motion, and prevent a recurrence. Your physician will begin with nonsurgical options, which may include splints to immobilize and straighten the thumb and wrist. They might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or steroid injections into the tendon sheath. During recovery, try to avoid painful and repetitive hand and wrist movements.

If noninvasive options don't result in improvement after a few weeks, your physician may suggest orthopedic surgery. The procedure for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis involves making more space for the inflamed tendon sheath. After the operation, physical therapy will be necessary to return strength and mobility to the wrist and prevent future occurrences.


If you’re seeking treatment for wrist pain, contact Orthopedic Associates of Hawaii for a prompt diagnosis and solutions. Serving the Aloha State since 1968, this medical clinic specializes in professional orthopedic care, surgery, and physical therapy. Their skilled physicians will help you eliminate pain and guide you on the path to healing. For more information about hand surgery and rehabilitation, visit their website or call (808) 536-2261.