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What Is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis?

DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, or radial styloid tenosynovitis, is a painful condition that occurs when the two wrist tendons situated at the base of the thumb become swollen. The swelling can cause the tendon coverings (sheaths) to become inflamed, which in turn can place pressure on nearby nerves.

The primary cause of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is overuse of the wrist. Some common repetitive movements that can lead this condition include placing a child in a car seat and carrying heavy bags by the handles. The condition can also result from direct trauma to the wrist or inflammatory arthritis.

What are the symptoms of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis?

The most common sign of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is pain that originates at the base of the thumb and extends upward through the forearm. The pain, which may strike suddenly or develop gradually, typically worsens when the wrist, hand or thumb is used.

Other symptoms of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Visible swelling at the base of the thumb.
  • Numbness and tingling sensations that radiate along the back of the thumb and index finger
  • A “catching” or “snapping” sensation when moving the thumb
  • A squeaking sound that occurs when the wrist tendons move within their swollen sheaths

How is DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis treated?

DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is a temporary condition that usually responds well to a few weeks of conservative treatment. A physician may recommend activity modifications, ice applications, splinting, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), strengthening exercises or steroid injections. Additionally, a physical therapist can provide advice on how to move properly in order to reduce stress on the wrist. If conservative treatment does not provide sufficient symptom relief, surgery may be recommended. During an outpatient procedure, a surgeon can make a small cut in the inflamed sheath to create more space for the tendons to move within it.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, you can consult with an experienced orthopedic specialist about your treatment options for DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations in the Houston, Texas, area.