DeQuervain’s Tendinitis

Northern California Orthopedic Specialists

DeQuervain’s tendinitis is a condition brought on by irritation or swelling of the tendons found along the thumb side of the wrist. The irritation causes the compartment (lining) around the tendon to swell, changing the shape of the compartment. This makes it difficult for the tendons to move as they should. The swelling can cause pain and tenderness along the thumb side of the wrist, usually noticed when forming a fist, grasping or gripping things, or turning the wrist.

DeQuervain’s tendinitis at a glance:

  • DeQuervain’s tendinitis is caused by irritation in the tendons in the side of the thumb and wrist.
  • The primary symptom of tendinitis is pain in the side of the wrist. This pain can come on all at once or gradually over time.
  • Tendinitis will sometimes go away on its own by resting the wrist. If that does not work, surgery may be required.

Symptoms of DeQuervain’s Tendinitis

Pain over the thumb side of the wrist is the main symptom. The pain may appear either gradually or suddenly. It is felt in the wrist and can travel up the forearm. The pain is usually worse with use of the hand and thumbs, especially when forcefully grasping things or twisting the wrist. Swelling over that thumb side of the wrist may be accompanied by a fluid-filled cyst in this region. There may be an occasional “catching” or “snapping” when moving the thumb. Because of the pain and swelling, it may be difficult to move the thumb and wrist.

Diagnosis of DeQuervain’s Tendinitis

A Finkelstein test is generally performed. In this test, the patient makes a fist with the fingers over the thumb. The wrist is then bent in the direction of the little finger. This test can be quite painful for the person with DeQuervain’s tendinitis. Tenderness directly over the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist is the most common finding, however.

Treatment of DeQuervain’s Tendinitis

The goal is to relieve the pain caused by the irritation and swelling. Some conservative treatment options include

  • Testing the thumb and wrist by wearing a splint
  • Anti-inflammatory medication taken by mouth or injected into the tendon
  • Leaving the thumb and wrist alone for several days; avoid irritating activities

DeQuervain’s Tendinitis can sometimes go away on its own with enough rest. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

If symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be recommended.

Contact us to learn more about your treatment options or the schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists in Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Brentwood, and Concord.