Named after the Swiss surgeon, Dr. Fritz De Quervain, who first identified the condition, De Quervain tenosynovitis, more commonly referred to as De Quervain’s disease, is a hand condition affecting a patient’s ability to move his or her thumb. This happens when the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist become swollen, causing pain when twisting, grasping or making a fist.
The causes of this painful hand condition include chronic overuse of the wrist, direct injury to the wrist or tendon area, and inflammatory arthritis. One interesting fact about De Quervain tenosynovitis is that women are more likely than men to suffer from this condition, especially after pregnancy. It used to be referred to as washerwoman’s sprain or mother’s wrist.
De Quervain’s Treatment
Treatment for De Quervain’s disease is aimed at reducing inflammation, maintaining movement in the thumb and preventing recurrence. In order to properly diagnose the condition, a hand surgeon will perform a simple test called the Finkelstein’s Test. The patient makes a fist with their fingers closed over the thumb with the wrist angled towards their little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, chances are it’s De Quervain’s disease.
De Quervain’s treatment options consist of the following:
- A splint, worn every day and night for 4-6 weeks, to hold the affected area firm and still
- Ice applied to the affected area in order to reduce inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory medications, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain and swelling
- Corticosteroids injections to relieve pain and inflammation
In cases where the condition does not respond to conventional treatment options, surgery may need to be considered. At MISI, our approach involves a 2cm incision over the affected tendons in the wrist area in order to release the pressure and allow more room for tendon movement. This procedure takes as little as seven minutes with an average recovery period of seven days.