How to Treat de Quervain's Tendonitis

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De Quervain’s tendonitis is a condition where the sheath, or lining, of the tendon in the wrist becomes swollen and restricts the movement of the tendon. It affects the tendon on the thumb area of your hand. If you are suffering from it, you will experience pain and discomfort in your thumb and wrist. It is made worse by repetitive motions that involve moving your wrist side to side or making a pinching motion with your thumb. Typing, playing the piano and gardening are often culprits in bringing on de Quervain's tendonitis.

Things You'll Need

  • Splint or brace
  • Heating pad
  • Ice pack
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines

Use a splint or a brace to immobilize your thumb and wrist. Keep them straight to allow the tendon to rest. Wear the brace when typing or doing repetitive motion activities.

Avoid movements that are repetitive altogether, when possible. Allow time for your hand to rest between actions.

Avoid moving your thumb in a pinching motion. Use the other hand when possible. Avoid crossing your thumb across your palm.

Avoid side-to-side motions with your wrist. Pick your hand up when reaching for keys on the keyboard, instead of turning your wrist.

Alternate heating pads and ice treatments on your thumb and wrist. Apply one treatment every two hours.

Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and relieve minor pain. Make sure your over-the-counter pain reliever is non-steroidal.

Speak to your health care provider about corticosteroid injections to relieve swelling.

Attend all physical or occupational therapy appointments and follow up with all prescribed strengthening exercises. Do not skip exercises as these are designed to relieve pain, strengthen the muscles, and decrease any irritation to the tendons.

Tips & Warnings

  • When icing or heating your wrist and thumb, do not apply direct heat or cold. You will want to use a dish towel or wash cloth between the ice or heating source and your skin to avoid damage to the skin. For heat and ice, apply the treatment for 20 minutes at a time.
  • If you follow all these steps and the directions of your health care provider and you still do not experience relief, your doctor may recommend surgery to help reduce the pain and irritation. The surgery is an outpatient procedure in which your doctor will cut into the sheath of the tendon and relieve the pressure it is causing.
  • Before beginning any home treatments, speak to your health care provider.

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