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De Quervains Tenosynovitis

What is De Quervains Tenosynovitis?

De Quervains Tenosynovitis is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist as they pass through a tunnel, known as a tendon sheath.

What are the symptoms of De Quervains Tenosynovitis?

Typically the symptoms are:

  • Pain and tenderness on the thumb side of the wrist.
  • The pain is usually worse when using the thumb, particularly when lifting the thumb up such as using scissors.
  • There may be some slight swelling to the area.

What are the causes of De Quervains Tenosynovitis?

In many cases De Quervains can develop without an obvious cause.

However some factors can increase the likelihood of developing it, such as;

  • Sudden increase in a new activity, e.g. DIY project.
  • Repetitive activities that continually overload the tendon.
  • New mothers are particularly susceptible to the condition.
  • Smoking.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Try to reduce or adjust specific activities that aggravate your symptoms.
  • Use Pain killers. It is recommended to try regular paracetamol and Anti Inflammatory gel’s in the first instance. If you are not sure if these are safe for you to use or they are not effective speak to your GP.
  • Use ice. Ensure you wrap the ice in a towel and check the skin regularly to check for ice burns.
  • Thumb splints or supports may help to stop you over using the thumb but constant use of the splint and complete rest is not recommended.
  • Start some strengthening exercise.
  • Self-refer to a see a physiotherapist.

What will physiotherapy do?

A physiotherapist with take a thorough history of your symptoms and will conduct a physical examination of the area to confirm the diagnosis.

The main aim of physiotherapy is to restore strength and function to the wrist, thumb and surrounding muscles. Treatment will be based on active rehabilitation, focusing on a gradual increase in strength and flexibility.

Your physiotherapist will create an individual and progressive exercise programme to address your individual needs. We have included some gentle exercises for you to start trying. 

De Quervains Exercises

Acupuncture, electrotherapy and massage have not been shown to be helpful for De Quervains and therefore not offered.

The use and risks of injections can be discussed with your physiotherapist or GP but self-management and splints are always required in the first instance. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic we will not be offering injections until further notice.

Symptoms to check

Click the plus sign to see a list of problems that could be a sign you may need to be checked urgently

Get advice from 111 now if:

  • the pain is severe and started after an injury or accident, like a fall
  • if you have cut yourself and can no longer move your fingers or wrist normally
  • you heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of an injury
  • you are unable to move or hold things
  • your hand or wrist has changed shape or colour
  • you have a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have redness or heat around the hand, wrist or fingers – this can be a sign of infection
  • you have any severe tingling or loss of sensation in your hand and it wont go away

Immediate medical advice is available by contacting NHS 111

Exercises & Resources area

Exercises & Resources

If you already have a diagnosis from a medical professional you may find some of the following links more helpful:

If your pain persists, or you are not sure what to do you can self-refer to see a local physiotherapist who can help you with your problem