De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist (tendons making up the first dorsal compartment of the wrist).
Chronic overuse of your wrist is commonly associated with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
When you grip, grasp, clench, pinch or wring anything in your hand, you use two major tendons in your wrist and lower thumb. These tendons normally glide unhampered through the small tunnel that connects them to the base of the thumb. If you repeat a particular motion day after day, it may irritate the sheath around the two tendons, causing thickening that restricts the movement of the tendons.
Other causes of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:
- Direct injury to your wrist or tendon; scar tissue can restrict movement of the tendons
- Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Pain near the base of your thumb
- Swelling near the base of your thumb
- Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist when you’re doing activities that involve grasping or pinching
- A “sticking” or “stop-and-go” sensation in your thumb when trying to move it
If the condition goes too long without treatment, the pain may spread farther into your thumb, back into your forearm or both. Pinching, grasping and other movements of your thumb and wrist aggravate the pain.
Cortisone can be injected into the tendon sheaths of the affected tendons, quieting down the irritation and inflammation. These are usually very successful injections. Regenerative-type injections (such as platelet-rich plasma [PRP]) therapy can theoretically provide longer lasting pain relief and improved function by stimulating the body’s own natural healing response when conventional treatments have failed.