De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is inflammation of the synovium or sheath that surrounds two tendons in the wrist, which attach to the base of the thumb. It is a form of repetitive strain injury which is made worse by sport, or work-related activities.


  • Pain (sharp or dull) at the base of the thumb

    • Feel pain when making a fist or grasping motion

    • Swelling on the thumb side of the wrist

    • Pain that spreads further into the thumb and forearm

    • Catching or snapping sensation when moving the thumb


It occurs more frequently in racket sports, such as tennis, squash or badminton, as well as golf, canoeing and ten pin bowling.

Any sport or work-related activity which involves repetitive wrist flexion and extension, or ulna and radial deviation (side to side movements) can bring on De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.


Tenosynovitis is simply inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon. Tendonitis is inflammation of the actual tendon itself.

With De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it is the tendons of the abductor pollicis brevis and extensor pollicis longus muscles which are involved. They pass through a tunnel in the wrist and attach at the base of the thumb.


To relieve pain and swelling caused by de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, your doctor or therapist may recommend conservative treatments, including the following:

• Splint: A splint may help rest the thumb and wrist.

• Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication like ibuprofen can be used for pain relief.

• Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections (anti-inflammatory agents) can reduce swelling and pain.

• Physical Therapy: Gentle exercises can help reduce stiffness and increase mobility in your finger.

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