DeQuervain’s Tenovaginitis

What Is It?

This condition is an inflammation of the tendons in the thumb, at the wrist region. This is often the result of a tightening and thickening of the tendon sheaths where these tendons run.

Signs & Symptoms

Image of Fig. A Showing swelling of the tendons of the thumbFigure A Showing swelling of the tendons of the thumb

Patients with DeQuervain’s Tenovaginitis usually feel an aching pain around the wrist area. The pain can sometimes radiate up the forearm. Those who are prone to this condition include women late in their pregnancy or in the immediate post partum period. Difficulties with carrying babies or pouring water from a pot are common complaints. Other activities associated with the condition are repetitive movements of the thumb, such as daily typing.

Other Causes

Concomitant conditions such as osteoarthritis of the basal joint to the thumb, fracture of the radial styloid or inflammation or arthritis of the radial styloid can give rise to similar symptoms. Your doctor may order x-rays if these conditions are suspected.

Treatment Options

Image of Fig. B Thumb splintFigure B Showing swelling of the tendons of the thumb

Patients with mild symptoms can be treated with abstinence of activities that aggravate the condition and rest with a thumb splint.

If symptoms persist, a steroid and lignocaine injection may help reduce pain. In recalcitrant cases, surgery may be necessary to release or reconstruct the thickened tendon sheath.