De Quervain's tendonitis is a painful condition characterized by pain and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist.
The pain is worse when lifting objects such as a jug of milk or gripping with the hand and thumb. In severe
cases, the pain may be present at night and the wrist may be sore to the touch.
Q: What causes De Quervain's Tendonitis?
A: The cause of the pain associated with De Quervain's tendonitis is inflammation around the
tendons of two distinct muscles called the abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis. The tendons on the
side and back of the wrist run through a "pulley", analogous to a fishing line running through the eyelets of a fishing
pole. The tendon normally slides smoothly, but inflammation and swelling around the tendon can cause it to snag and get
caught on the pulley causing pain.
Q: Who gets De Quervain's Tendonitis?
A: Anybody can develop De Quervain's tendonitis at any age. Diabetes, pregnancy and thyroid
disease are occasionally associated with De Quervain's tendonitis.
Q: What can be done?
A: Initial treatment with a thumb splint, rest and an oral anti-inflammatory is helpful.
The most effective non-surgical treatment for De Quervain's tendonitis is an injection of cortisone (a type of steroid)
around the tendon to decrease the swelling. If this does not help or if the pain recurs, surgical treatment is
curative. The procedure involves a day surgery procedure (home the same day), a small incision and a splint for
10 days until the sutures are removed. Recovery time is not excessively long.
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