March 15, 2021
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammatory condition of the tendon sheath (synovium) that surrounds the two tendons, extensor pollicus brevis (EPB) and abductor pollicus longus (APB).This is located at the base of the thumb and these two muscles are responsible for moving the thumb up and away from you hand. The condition is most common in women after pregnancy and is attributed to overuse of the tendons. Repetitive movements in work or sport that require gripping, grasping and clenching can also cause inflammation. Pain and swelling at the base of the thumb are the main symptoms to look out for and could be made worse by repetitive gripping and lifting.
Treatment for this condition begins with rest, ice and the use of NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen) to reduce pain and inflammation. Avoiding the aggravating movements that cause pain are very important in the beginning stages. Splinting to reduce thumb movement might be recommended depending on the severity of the injury. Manual techniques (e.g. soft tissue massage) and an individualised exercise programme will be utilised to restore hand and thumb function. A strengthening programme that includes grip and forearm strength would be beneficial in preventing recurrence of this condition.