Tendons become swollen, weak and painful when grasping, forming a fist or turning your wrist.

De Quervain’s Tendonitis

Thumb or Wrist Tendonitis

De Quervain’s Tendonitis affects the thumb side of the wrist where the tendons at the base of the thumb become irritated or constricted. The tendons become swollen, weak and painful when grasping, forming a fist or turning your wrist. There are two main tendons to the thumb that attach muscle to the bone, and are covered in synovium (slippery tissue). This helps the tendons to slide through the fibrous tunnel sheath. When the tendon swelling occurs, it creates less room to move resulting in friction and pain.

Tendonitis an be caused by overuse. It is sometimes associated with rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy and occurs more often in middle aged women.

De Quervain’s Tendonitis symptoms are felt on the thumb side of the wrist and with gradual or sudden pain that can move up the forearm. The affected area may swell and have decreased mobility of the thumb and wrist. You may feel a snapping feeling when moving your thumb. A physician may perform the Finkelstein test, where you make fist around your thumb while bending your wrist, for diagnosis.

To alleviate the pain caused by swelling, you should avoid the activities that cause that pain, rest the area with the use of a splint, and take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain. In some cases corticosteroid injections can be used to manage the pain.

When non surgical treatment does not improve symptoms an orthopedic surgeon may perform a surgery to open up the thumb sheath to make more room for the affected tendons to move easily.