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De Quervain's Tendinitis

Orthopedic Specialists Here for You

De Quervain’s tendinitis is a condition that affects the tendons of the wrist. Tendons are the tough cords of connective tissue which attach muscles to bone. The extensor tendons of the thumb and wrist, known as the Abductor Pollicus Longus and the Extensor Pollicus Brevis, are held in place by a sheath at the wrist.

De Quervain’s tendinitis occurs when the extensor tendons become inflamed from stress or overuse, making it difficult for them to slide smoothly through the extensor sheath. This results in pain and tenderness at the thumb side of the wrist and at the base of the forearm. Pain also manifests when the patient moves their thumb or wrist, makes a fist, or grasps and holds objects with the affected hand.

Causes of De Quervain’s Tendinitis

De Quervain’s tendinitis is caused by an irritation of the tendons at the base of the thumb, primarily due to a chronic overuse of the hand. De Quervain’s tendinitis can affect anyone at any age, though it is more common among adults over the age of 40 as well as women and African-Americans.

New mothers are especially prone to this type of tendinitis, due to hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy and nursing and the often awkward hand positioning that comes with lifting and cradling an infant.

Athletes engaging in sports that stress the hand and wrist (such as tennis, golf, and rowing) are also at a greater risk for developing de Quervain’s tendinitis. In younger patients, the excessive use of the thumb caused by texting and gaming has also been linked to instances of De Quervain’s tendinitis.

Symptoms of De Quervain’s Tendinitis

De Quervain’s tendinitis is most commonly accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling may be present at thumb side of the wrist, and may make it difficult to move the thumb and wrist
  • Pain may appear either gradually or suddenly
  • Pain is felt in wrist and can travel up the forearm
  • Pain is usually worse when thumb and wrist are in use, especially with forceful grasping or twisting of the wrist
  • Fluid-filled cyst over thumb side of wrist may accompany swelling
  • A “catching” or “snapping” may be felt when moving the thumb
  • Numbness may be experienced on back of thumb and index finger

If you are experiencing any of the associated symptoms, our orthopedic specialists are here to help. Learn more about De Quervain’s tendinitis treatment. Call (630) 584-1400 to schedule an appointment.