De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, causing painful inflammation of the tendons and the sheath surrounding them. The condition results from irritation or constriction of the tendons, leading to difficulties in performing everyday tasks involving wrist and thumb movements. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is more prevalent in women and individuals who engage in repetitive hand or wrist movements, such as gardening, knitting, or lifting heavy objects.

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our distinguished hand and wrist surgeons, Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez are devoted to diagnosing and treating De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis using the latest evidence-based methods and techniques. Our state-of-the-art facility and committed team of healthcare professionals collaborate to provide exceptional care, focusing on mitigating hand and wrist discomfort and restoring function.

In this enlightening article, we will delve into the potential causes of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, common symptoms associated with the condition, and various diagnostic methods. Furthermore, we will discuss the wide array of both non-surgical and surgical treatment options available at North Florida Hand and Wrist. By understanding De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and the available treatments, patients can make informed decisions about their hand and wrist health, leading to successful outcomes and an improved quality of life.

Exploring Causes and Risk Factors of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Although the exact cause of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is not fully understood, several factors are believed to contribute to the development and progression of this condition. These factors include:

  1. Repetitive Hand and Wrist Movements: Engaging in activities that require repetitive and forceful thumb and wrist movements can lead to irritation and inflammation in the tendon sheath, contributing to the development of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.
  2. Hand and Wrist Injuries: Previous injuries to the wrist or thumb area may result in inflammation or scar tissue formation, which can increase the risk of developing this condition.
  3. Medical Conditions: Systemic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may increase the risk of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, as they can cause chronic inflammation within tendon sheaths.
  4. Age and Gender: Women, particularly those aged 30-50, are more likely to develop De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, although the condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender.

Recognizing Symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can present with various symptoms, which may develop gradually, including:

  1. Pain and Swelling: The most common symptom is pain and swelling at the base of the thumb and wrist, which may extend up the forearm.
  2. Impaired Thumb and Wrist Movement: Affected individuals often experience difficulty in performing activities requiring thumb and wrist movements, such as pinching, gripping, or lifting objects.
  3. Stiffness and Tenderness: The area around the inflamed tendons may become stiff and tender to the touch.
  4. Crepitus: In some instances, a “catching” sensation or a creaking sound (crepitus) may occur when moving the thumb or wrist.

Diagnosing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

To accurately diagnose De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and recommend the most appropriate treatment, our physicians at North Florida Hand and Wrist will:

  1. Perform a Physical Examination: During the examination, the doctor will ask the patient to perform specific hand movements, such as the Finkelstein test, to assess pain levels and evaluate tendon and wrist function.
  2. Review Medical History: A thorough discussion of the patient’s medical history, including any pre-existing medical conditions, injuries, or risk factors, is crucial for determining the most effective treatment plan.
  3. Utilize Imaging Tests: In some cases, the physician may recommend additional imaging tests, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, to rule out other conditions that could contribute to hand and wrist pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

In many cases, conservative treatment methods can successfully manage or alleviate symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Some non-surgical treatment options include:

  1. Activity Modification: Identifying and avoiding activities that worsen symptoms can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.
  2. Immobilization: Wearing a splint or brace that supports the thumb and wrist may help alleviate pain and encourage healing by restricting tendon movement.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  4. Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids in the affected tendon sheath may provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation and pain. However, multiple injections may be less effective and could increase the risk of tendon damage.

Surgical Treatment Options for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

If conservative treatments prove ineffective or the condition worsens, surgical intervention may become necessary. The primary surgical treatment for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is:

  1. De Quervain’s Release Surgery: During this outpatient procedure, the surgeon makes an incision near the base of the thumb and opens the tendon sheath to release pressure on the inflamed tendons. This surgery is highly effective in relieving symptoms and restoring thumb and wrist function.

Following surgery, patients may require hand therapy or occupational therapy to facilitate optimal recovery and regain hand function.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life if left untreated. Understanding the condition’s symptoms, causes, and available treatment options allows patients to make well-informed decisions about their hand and wrist health, ultimately leading to improved outcomes and an enhanced quality of life. 

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our team of skilled wrist and hand specialists, led by Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, is dedicated to providing personalized and comprehensive care for patients suffering from De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or other hand and wrist conditions. With our expert guidance, you can expect exceptional care on your journey toward pain relief, improved function, and overall wellness. Contact us today.