De Quervain's tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis) is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain's tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.

Although the exact 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 golf or racket sports or lifting your baby — can make it worse.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Symptoms of de Quervain's tenosynovitis include:

  • Pain near the base of your thumb
  • Swelling near the base of your thumb
  • Difficulty moving your thumb and wrist when you're doing activities that involve grasping or pinching
  • A "sticking" or "stop-and-go" sensation in your thumb when trying to move it

If the condition goes too long without treatment, the pain may spread farther into your thumb, back into your forearm or both. Pinching, grasping and other movements of your thumb and wrist aggravate the pain.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you're still having problems with pain or function and you've already tried:

  • Avoiding moving your thumb in the same way over and over again whenever possible
  • Avoiding pinching with your thumb when moving your wrist from side to side
  • Applying cold to the affected area
  • Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)

If the pain continues to interfere with your daily life or activities, seek medical advice.

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