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If the area around your thumb and wrist hurts when you try to turn, twist, or grasp anything, you might have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, otherwise known as De Quervain’s Disease. Try making a fist of your arm.

You might feel a slight and sharp pain just under the thumb of the affected arm. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, pronounced as “dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis” can be a severe condition near your thumb. It often causes severe pain and numbness.

The condition happens to anyone engaging in the continuous and repetitive motion of their hands.  Because it is common for people that overplay video games, it is referred to as Gamer’s thumb.  Other synonyms for De Quervain’s Disease are washer-woman’s thumb, mother’s thumb, designer’s thumb, and texting thumb.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Condition: What is it?

Our thumb is connected to the wrist with the help of two tendons. These are two stretchable yet inelastic fibers or muscles that connect muscles to bones. These two tendons have numerous and very important nerves around them.

If any or both of these tendons swell due to any reason, the body will try to repair them through inflammation. This swelling and inflammation of tendons pressurize the nerves surrounding them causing tremendous pain and numbness.

Do I have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Try to make a fist with your thumb tucked in and flex your fist downwards. If you feel a slight yet sharp pain just below your thumb, you might have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Sometimes this pain climbs up to your forearms. It will be a very tender pain around the thumb.

The pain due to De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis usually establishes slowly and amplifies gradually but many cases have been observed where the pain was subtle and enormous.

Besides the pain, You will also see a bit of swelling near the base of the thumb and the area around it. The thumb may become numb near its back and closer to the index finger.

Whenever you try to move your thumb, you may feel a cracking or snapping feeling and might also hear some creaking sound as the swollen tendons are not nourished properly.

Causes of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

The actual cause of this condition has not yet been confirmed but many doctors believe that the conditions occur due to continuous and repetitive motion of the wrist.

The overuse of the wrist without giving it enough rest can lead to De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. You will feel a slow start and a rise in the irritation and pain around your thumb which is a signal of overuse of the wrist.

A simple job of typing, texting, or oven picking up a baby repeatedly, over, and over, can cause this disease.

Another reason could be an injury to this part of the wrist or a direct hit to inflammatory arthritis. Such an injury will directly tear the tendons or just overstretch them causing bad pain.

Who is Most Likely to Suffer from De Quervain’s Disease?

Well, anyone can get this condition but research has shown that the following group of people have higher chances of getting the condition naturally:

  • If you are a woman, especially if you are a new mother with a baby or toddler.
  • If you are 40 years or older.
  • If your work involves continuous and repetitive motion of your wrist over an extended period of time.
  • You have weak tendons.
  • If you are pregnant. The hormonal changes in women at the time of pregnancy can cause De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.
  • If you have arthritis

How Can You Treat De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Any treatment of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis usually focuses on reducing the swelling and pain around the affected area. The following remedies can help treat the condition to a certain extent:

  • Applying something cold like ice or something hot like a hot pack can relieve the pain temporarily by making more space for the tendons to move and numbing the nerve.
  • A pain killer or an anti-inflammatory drug or diet may help to a certain extent.
  • Resting your wrist will definitely give it enough time to improve.
  • Steroids or other injections around the thumb and into the tendon can have a good positive effect on the pain.
  • Slow exercise and therapy will also definitively improve the condition.
  • De Quervain’s Wand can help reduce inflammation quickly, inexpensively, and inexpensively. 
  • Instead of using a finger brace, De Quervain’s Tape can help provide a gentle stretch to the thumb while still allowing you a full range of motion.

If taken well, the condition will slowly improve.  Within 4-6 weeks or when the swelling has completely vanished, you may be able to do some heavy work with the wrist with little or no pain.


In extreme conditions where no remedy works on the condition, surgery will do the job. The surgeon will cut the sheath around the tendons. This will give the swollen tendons enough room to move to cause no pain as the nerves won’t be contacted.  

Prior to surgery, the best approach is definitely trying De Quervain’s Wand and De Quervain’s Tape.

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