DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. It occurs when the tendons become irritated and inflamed as they pass through a tunnel in the wrist known as the “first dorsal compartment”. This can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty with wrist and thumb movements.
Causes of DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is typically caused by irritation and inflammation of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb. The exact cause of this irritation and inflammation is not always clear, but it is often associated with repetitive hand and wrist movements, injury to the wrist or thumb, or inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Some common activities that can lead to DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include:
Repetitive hand and wrist movements: This can include activities such as typing, using a mouse, knitting, playing video games, or using a smartphone.
Lifting heavy objects: This can put stress on the wrist and thumb, leading to inflammation and irritation of the tendons.
Direct injury to the wrist or thumb: This can occur from a fall or impact that causes damage to the tendons.
Inflammatory conditions: Certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, can cause inflammation and irritation of the tendons in the wrist and thumb.
It’s important to note that not everyone who engages in these activities will develop DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, and the condition can also occur without an apparent cause. If you are experiencing pain or difficulty with wrist and thumb movements, it’s important to seek medical attention to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
The most common signs and symptoms of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include:
- Pain or tenderness in the wrist or thumb: This is usually felt on the thumb side of the wrist and can extend up the forearm.
- Swelling or thickening of the tendon: You may notice a bump or swelling at the base of your thumb.
- Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist: You may experience a reduced range of motion in your wrist or difficulty with activities that require you to move your thumb, such as grasping objects, pinching, or making a fist.
- A “sticking” or “snapping” sensation: You may feel a sensation of your tendons catching or “snapping” as you move your thumb.
- Worsening pain with use: The pain and discomfort may become more severe with activities that involve the wrist and thumb, such as gripping or lifting.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider can perform a physical examination and diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, to confirm the diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment for DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, especially in the early stages of the condition. The goals of physiotherapy are to reduce pain, improve the function and mobility of the wrist and thumb, and prevent further injury or reoccurrence. Some common physiotherapy treatments for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include:
Splinting: Wearing a splint or brace on the affected wrist and thumb can help to immobilize the tendons and reduce inflammation. This can provide pain relief and promote healing.
Manual therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as massage, mobilization, and stretching, can help to reduce pain and improve flexibility and range of motion of the wrist and thumb.
Exercise therapy: Specific exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the wrist and thumb, improve joint stability, and promote healing. These exercises may include range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and stretching.
Activity modification: Your physiotherapist can help you to identify activities that may be exacerbating your symptoms and provide guidance on modifying these activities to reduce pain and prevent further injury.
Education: Your physiotherapist can provide education on proper ergonomics and body mechanics to reduce strain on the wrist and thumb during daily activities.
It’s important to note that the best treatment for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Your physiotherapist can develop a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Goo, Y. K., Kim, K. W., Ha, S. M., Kim, J. W., Oh, S. M., & Lee, J. Y. (2019). Comparison of short-term effects between kinesio taping and stretching for patients with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Hand Therapy