De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the soft tissues surrounding the tendons of the thumb. It is an overuse injury commonly found in people using repetitive thumb actions in their work. Lab workers who perform a lot of pipetting are common sufferers of the condition as are hairdressers. There is also a high incidence of the condition in young mothers.
The tendons of the thumb originate above the wrist joint. Crossing a bony prominence on the outer surface of the wrist joint to arrive at the thumb the tendons are prone to micro-trauma due to excessive rubbing of the tendons on the hard bony surface. This produces an inflammatory response in sufferers of the condition.
The condition is characterised by pain and tenderness over the tendons of the thumb as they cross the wrist joint. The tendons may become swollen. De Quirvain’s tenosynovitis needs to be treated as it doesn’t get better on its own.
Once it’s been accurately diagnosed, treatment may include, adapting day to day activities, stretching, splinting and soft tissue therapy. Failure to respond to this type of treatment sometimes means the condition may need to be treated with cortisone injection. There are no long-term consequences to having suffered with the condition, but it usually will not settle without appropriate treatment.