ABC Medical Center > De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

What is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is a very painful disorder because it attacks the wrist tendons that go to the thumb, causing severe discomfort when trying to grab something, make a fist, or simply move the wrist. We must remember that tendons are like ropes that connect the muscles to the bony structures, so making a continuous movement can inflame them and limit their movement.

Any activity that represents recurrent movements of the hand or wrist for long periods can favor the appearance of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, but it can also appear due to: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Trauma or injury to the wrist or tendons.

Like any condition, some conditions can trigger it, such as: 

  • Sports or work activities that involve repetitive movements of the hand and wrist.
  • Being pregnant or caring for a baby.
  • Being a woman, since it affects women more than men.
  • Being between 32 and 52 years old.

Signs and symptoms De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Among the most common are: 

  • Pain that radiates from the thumb to the forearm and vice versa.
  • Inflammation.
  • Trouble moving your thumb and wrist when trying to grasp something.
  • Feeling that the thumb stays stiff when moving it.

If you have these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor, because De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can limit wrist movement and cause pain that can be disabling.

Diagnosis and treatment De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Your orthopedist will assess your case and perform a physical examination of your hand to see if you feel pain when you press on your wrist. They will also apply the Finkelstein test which consists of folding the thumb over the palm of the hand and then wrapping it with the fingers and flexing the wrist towards the little finger.

If it causes pain in the wrist on the side of the thumb, the diagnosis is confirmed. The treatment of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis consists of reducing the inflammation and recovering the mobility of the thumb through: 

  • Cryotherapy in the affected area.
  • Injectable corticosteroids.
  • Painkillers.
  • Anti-inflammatories.
  • Immobilization of the thumb and wrist with a splint to support the tendons and keep them straight.
  • Physical therapy to learn exercises to strengthen the hands, wrists, and arms, as well as to reduce pain.
  • In severe cases, the option is surgery.

Within four to six weeks, the discomfort should subside. If De Quervain’s tenosynovitis develops during pregnancy, symptoms may fade toward the end of pregnancy or breastfeeding.

At the Orthopedics and Traumatology Center, we seek to improve the lives of patients restricted or immobilized by musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. We specialize in the care of the locomotor system by integrating the latest medical, biological, and technological advances, in strict adherence to the highest international standards of patient care.


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  • Víctor BA, Telich TJE, Iñigo AF, et al. Diagnóstico y tratamiento de las infecciones agudas de mano. Acta Med. 2018;16(1):87-91.

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