De Quervain’s Disease


De Quervain’s disease also referred to as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a medical condition in which the tendons in the thumb side of the wrist are inflamed. The inflammation leads to pain, which especially flares with each movement of the wrist. Pain is experienced when making a fist or even when simply grasping something.

The pain arises because the tendons are swollen in this condition and with each movement their coverings rub against the narrow tunnel through which they pass. The pain’s focal point is the base of the thumb and extends to as far as the lower arm.

Symptoms which indicate De Quervain’s disease

The first and foremost symptom will be a pain near the base of the thumb. Accompanying that pain can be a possible swelling. People also experience a “lag” or a stop and go feeling in their thumb when trying to move it.  Everyday activities which involve thumb and wrist movements for example grabbing will be difficult.

If you have these symptoms and applying cold packs along with resting the affected area does not ease the pain then you should consult your doctor for a thorough diagnosis.  The diagnosis of this disease is quite simple and straight forward. In most cases the use of X-rays is not required. Doctors simply employ the “Finklestein test”.

The Finklestein test involves bending the thumb across the palm and then the fingers over the thumb. After this is done the wrist is to be moved towards the little finger. If feeling of pain rises on the thumb side of the wrist then there is a good chance of De Quervain disease being present.


Initially to reduce the pain and the swelling doctors may suggest the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen (sold as Motrin, Advil etc).  Doctors also employ injections of corticosteroid medications to lessen the swelling. These are directly injected in the tendon sheath.

In cases of De Quervain’s disease where treatment begins within the six months of symptoms first appearing it is seen that most people recover completely after receiving just one corticosteroid injection.

People can also benefit from visiting physical therapists as they can review one’s daily habits and then give suggestions on necessary amendments to relieve any stress being put on the wrists. Therapists are also aware of exercises focusing on the hand and wrist. These exercises can help to strengthen the muscles, lower the pain and curb the irritation level of the tendons.

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