De Quervain tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb’s side of your wrist. This condition results in pain when a person attempts to rotate the wrist, grab an object or make a fist.
The exact cause of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is unknown. However, any activity that requires repetitive hand or wrist movement, e.g., playing golf or digging, can exacerbate the condition.
It is also known as radial styloid tenosynovitis, describing the anatomical components of the dysfunction. Also called Washer Woman’s wrist, it is named after Fritz de Quervain, a Swiss surgeon who documented five case reports on it in 1895.
Figure A:Shows swelling of the thumb tendons
The main symptom of the condition is pain over the thumb’s side of the wrist. The onset of pain could be gradual or sudden and is typically localized to the wrist’s first dorsal extensor compartment. The pain may radiate distally to the forearm or proximally down the thumb.
Motion using the hand and thumb may result in pain exacerbation, particularly when grasping or twisting forcefully. Patients may also notice swelling over the base of the thumb that could progress to a cyst.
There are various movement restrictions involving the fist, especially in pinching and twisting due to the pain and swelling. Occasionally there could be “catching” or “snapping” when using the thumb.
Numbness of the thumb and index finger’s dorsal aspect may result from irritation of the nerve overlying the tendon sheath.
Figure B:Shows swelling of the thumb tendons
Although this tendonitis’s specific cause is not known, chronic overuse of the wrist is commonly associated with the condition.
Tendons are fibrous structures that connect muscles to bones. When you grasp, grip, pinch or wring anything with the hand, two tendons in your wrist and thumb usually glide over each other within the tunnel that attaches them to the thumb’s base.
When this type of motion is carried out repeatedly, it could irritate the sheath surrounding these two tendons leading to swelling and tension, limiting their movement.