De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, causing inflammation and irritation to the tendon sheath. This condition can result in pain and discomfort, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks that involve grasping or pinching. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is more common among women, particularly new mothers, and individuals who engage in repetitive hand and wrist movements, like those required in certain work or hobby activities.

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our expertly-trained hand and wrist surgeons, Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, are committed to providing patients with the absolute best care possible for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Our state-of-the-art surgical facility, staffed by a team of dedicated practitioners, strives to ease any hand or wrist discomfort you may experience and help restore the function of your hand.

Causes and Risk Factors of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis occurs when inflammation affects the tendon sheath surrounding the extensor and abductor tendons of the thumb, leading to a narrowing of the tendon tunnel and causing pain and discomfort. While the exact cause of this condition is not always clear, several factors are known to contribute to its development:

  1. Repetitive hand and wrist movements: Regularly engaging in activities that involve repetitive motions of the thumb and wrist, such as gardening, knitting, or racket sports, may increase the likelihood of developing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.
  2. New mothers: Women who have recently given birth are at a higher risk for developing this condition, as hormonal changes and the strain of lifting and holding the baby can contribute to tendon inflammation.
  3. Age and gender: De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is most commonly seen in women aged 30 to 50, although it can affect individuals of any age or gender.
  4. Previous wrist injuries: A history of wrist injuries, such as sprains or fractures, can increase the risk of developing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis due to the potential alteration in tendon function and stress distribution on surrounding structures.

Recognizing the Symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

The primary symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis include pain, swelling, and stiffness on the thumb side of the wrist. Here are some common indications that you may be experiencing this condition:

  1. Pain and swelling: The onset of pain may be gradual or sudden, with an increased swelling in the wrist area near the base of the thumb. Pain may extend into the forearm and may worsen when moving the thumb or wrist.
  2. Stiffness: The thumb may feel stiff or difficult to move, particularly when attempting to pinch or grasp objects.
  3. Reduced strength: Along with pain and stiffness, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis may reduce your hand’s gripping strength.
  4. A catching or snapping sensation: In some cases, moving the thumb may cause a “snapping” or “catching” sensation, as the inflamed tendons struggle to move smoothly within the tendon sheath.

Diagnosis of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can be diagnosed through a comprehensive physical examination and discussion about the history of symptoms. A common diagnostic test is the Finkelstein’s test, where the patient makes a fist with their thumb inside, and bends their wrist towards their little finger. If the test provokes pain on the thumb side of the wrist, it could be indicative of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Imaging studies like X-rays or ultrasound may also be used to rule out other potential causes of wrist pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Before considering surgical intervention, non-surgical treatment options can be explored to help alleviate the symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis:

  1. Rest and activity modification: Limiting activities that cause pain and using a splint to immobilize the wrist and thumb can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.
  2. Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
  3. Cold or heat therapy: Applying ice or heat packs to the affected wrist can provide temporary pain relief.
  4. Corticosteroid injections: Injections of a corticosteroid medication into the tendon sheath can help to decrease inflammation and reduce pain.
  5. Physical therapy: A skilled physical therapist can develop a program of stretching and strengthening exercises designed to improve hand function and reduce symptoms.

Surgical Treatment for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

If non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be required to alleviate pain and restore hand function. The surgery, known as De Quervain’s release, aims to enlarge the tendon sheath, allowing the inflamed tendons to move more freely and reducing pain and discomfort. This procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, often under local anesthesia, and is followed by post-operative therapy to aid in the recovery process.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can be a painful and debilitating hand condition, impacting an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities. If left untreated, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can lead to permanent damage to the tendons and surrounding tissues and may require surgical intervention. Therefore, seeking medical attention as soon as symptoms arise is essential for a successful recovery.

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our experienced hand and finger doctors, led by Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, are committed to providing comprehensive care and advanced treatment options to help regain your hand’s functionality and alleviate pain. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards improved hand health and well-being.