De Quervain Tendinitis

De Quervain tendinitis is swelling and irritation of the tendons of the wrist.

A tendon is thick, bendable tissue that connects muscle to bone. Two tendons run from the back of your thumb down the side of your wrist. De Quervain tendinitis is caused when these tendons are swollen and irritated.

De Quervain tendinitis can be caused by playing sports such as tennis, golf, or rowing. Constantly lifting children can also strain the tendons in the wrist and lead to this condition.

If you have De Quervain tendinitis, you may notice:
  • Pain on the back of your thumb when you make a fist, grab something, or turn your wrist
  • Numbness in the thumb and index finger
  • Swelling of the wrist
  • Stiffness when moving your thumb or wrist

De Quervain tendinitis is usually treated with rest, splints, medicine, changes in activity, and exercise. Your doctor may also give you a shot of cortisone to help decrease pain and swelling.

Ice your wrist for 20 minutes of every hour while awake. Wrap the ice in cloth. DO NOT put ice directly on the skin because this can result in frostbite.

For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
  • Talk with your health care provider before using these drugs if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, or have had stomach ulcers or internal bleeding in the past.
  • DO NOT take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your provider.

If your tendinitis is chronic, you may need surgery to give the tendon more room to slide without rubbing on the tunnel wall.