De Quervains tenosynovitis is a condition where the sheath that two tendons run through on the lateral side of the wrist becomes inflamed. The tendons attach to the outer thumb. The muscles that attach to the tendons originate in the forearm and control movements of the thumb. When these tendons become irritated, they cause swelling and significant pain in the wrist and thumb area.
People are prone to getting DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis with repetitive wrist and thumb movements. Women who take care of infants postpartum are likely to develop DeQuervain’s due to repetitive movements associated with lifting and breastfeeding. Certain occupations that involve repetitive grasping and twisting movements, such as carpentry, also may increase one’s risk for developing this condition.
- Pain with gripping, pinching
- Swelling at base of thumb and wrist
- Injury to the wrist
- Repetitive use of thumb
TREATMENT WITH PHYSICAL THERAPY
With DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, the goal of physical therapy is to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. Your doctor may prescribe a thumb spica splint that will immobilize your thumb and wrist. Once swelling is reduced, you will be instructed in range of motion and tendon gliding exercises that will mobilize tendons in the fingers and wrist. A physical therapy regimen will then focus on strengthening the muscles of the hand and forearm, which will increase resilience to stressful motions and relieve irritation of the tendons. Your therapist will guide you through proper lifting mechanics and workstation ergonomics to prevent aggravation of your symptoms.