De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (duh-kare-VAHS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis) is a painful inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, you’re likely to feel discomfort every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.
Although the cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis isn’t known, any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement — such as working in the garden, playing music, knitting, cooking, lifting your baby or walking your pet — can aggravate the condition.
Treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis may range from immobilizing your wrist and taking medications to surgery in more serious cases. If you start treatment early on, your symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis should generally improve within four to six weeks.
When you grip, grasp, clench, pinch or wring anything in your hand, you use two major tendons in your wrist and lower thumb. These tendons run side by side from your forearm through the thumb side of your wrist. They normally glide unhampered through the small tunnel that connects them to the base of the thumb. In de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, the tendons’ slippery covering becomes inflamed, restricting movement of the tendons.
Chronic overuse of your wrist is commonly associated with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. For example, wringing out a cloth involves a repetitive motion, a bent wrist and the gripping of the cloth. If you repeat an action like this day after day, this combination may be enough to irritate the sheath around the two tendons.
Other causes of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:
Direct injury to your wrist or tendon; scar tissue can restrict movement of the tendons
Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis