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De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. It occurs when the tendons passing through the narrow tunnel sheath at the base of the thumb become inflamed. The two main tendons involved are the extensor pollicis brevis and the abductor pollicis longus.

This condition is often associated with repetitive thumb and wrist movements, such as those involved in activities like texting, gaming, or lifting. Pregnant women and new mothers are also at an increased risk, likely due to hormonal changes and increased fluid retention.


Symptoms of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis typically include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the thumb and wrist. The pain may worsen with thumb and wrist motion or when grasping objects. In severe cases, there may be a noticeable snapping or catching sensation as the tendons move through the inflamed sheath.


Diagnosis is usually based on clinical examination, where the doctor may perform specific tests to check for pain and swelling. Imaging studies like ultrasound may also be used to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other conditions.


Treatment options for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis range from conservative measures to surgical intervention. Resting the affected hand, applying ice, and wearing a splint to immobilize the thumb and wrist are common initial approaches. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Physical Therapy treatment:

 Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of this condition, aiming to alleviate pain, improve functionality, and prevent recurrence.

The initial phase of physical therapy focuses on reducing inflammation and pain. Therapists often employ modalities such as ice or heat applications, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to promote healing and alleviate discomfort. Additionally, splinting may be recommended to immobilize the affected thumb and wrist, allowing the inflamed tendons to rest and heal.

As the acute symptoms subside, the emphasis shifts towards restoring range of motion and strength. Physical therapists design tailored exercise programs to address muscle imbalances, enhance flexibility, and improve the overall function of the hand and wrist. Range of motion exercises may include gentle stretching and controlled movements to regain mobility.

    • Strengthening exercises are crucial for rehabilitating the affected tendons and surrounding muscles. Therapists often incorporate resistance training using therapeutic putty or resistance bands to target specific muscle groups. Gradual progression is key to prevent overloading the healing tendons while gradually building strength.
    • Functional activities and ergonomic education are essential components of physical therapy for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Therapists guide patients in modifying daily activities to minimize strain on the affected tendons. Proper body mechanics and hand positioning during activities such as typing, lifting, and gripping can significantly reduce the risk of exacerbating symptoms.
    • Manual therapy techniques may be employed to address joint stiffness and improve tissue mobility. Therapists use hands-on methods like joint mobilizations and soft tissue massage to alleviate tightness and enhance the overall function of the hand and wrist.
    • Patient education is integral to the success of physical therapy. Therapists educate individuals about the condition, its causes, and preventive measures. Lifestyle modifications and home exercise programs are often prescribed to empower patients to actively participate in their recovery.

In chronic or severe cases, when conservative measures do not provide sufficient relief, more advanced interventions such as corticosteroid injections or, in rare cases, surgical intervention may be considered. Physical therapists collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive care and a multidisciplinary approach.The surgical procedure involves releasing the constricted tendon sheath, allowing the tendons to move freely.

 Through a combination of modalities, exercises, manual therapy, and education, physical therapists aim to alleviate pain, restore function, and equip individuals with the tools to prevent recurrence. Regular communication and collaboration between the patient, therapist, and other healthcare providers are essential for a successful rehabilitation journey.

Recovery from De Quervain’s tenosynovitis varies, but most individuals experience significant improvement with appropriate treatment. It is crucial to follow medical advice, avoid activities that exacerbate symptoms, and engage in rehabilitation exercises to prevent recurrence.


In conclusion, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, often caused by repetitive hand and wrist movements. Timely diagnosis and appropriate management, including conservative measures and, if necessary, surgical intervention, can lead to successful recovery and improved hand function.