De Quervain Tenosynovitis

Sending text messages to my friend…all of sudden:
“Ouch, my Thumb hurts!”
Then new message arrived:
“Hello there, meet your new friend De Quervain Tenosynovitis!”
“Gulp!”

De Quervain tenosynovitis who? What’s up with the name?

Like many medical terms, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis getting its name from the first individual who identified it: Fritz de Quervain – A Surgeon from Switzerland.

Tenosynovitis means the swelling (inflammation) of the synovium (the fluid filled sheath) that surrounds a tendon (a tough yet flexible band of fibrous tissue that connects a muscle to a bone).

What cause this sheath (synovium) to swollen?

The swelling of the sheath (synovium) is caused by irritation of tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, in which changes the shape of the compartment. Thus,  it is difficult for the tendons to move as they should – particularly in this case – Your THUMB!

Okay..how de Quervain tenosynovitis had to do with my thumb?

Chronic overuse of your wrist with movement of your thumb is commonly associated with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Wait, that movement you mentioned, does it have to do with me ‘overuse’ phone text messaging?

Yes. When you grip, grasp, clench, pinch or wring anything in your hand – using your phone to text messaging, you will use two major tendons in your wrist and lower thumb. These tendons normally glide uninterrupted through the small ‘tunnel’ that connects them to the base of the thumb.

If you keep repeating the same movement day after day, it may irritate the sheath around the two tendons, causing thickening that restricts the movement of the tendons.

However, please take note that de Quervain Tenosynovitis also can be caused by direct injury or chronic inflammatory disease such Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Okay..now what should I do to treat this?

In conservative treatments (non-surgical method) for De Quervain tenosynovitis includes any combination of Physiotherapy, splinting, ice (cryotherapy), anti-inflammation medication, and/or cortisone injection.

If non above works – which is rarely necessary – surgery approach can be used. Surgery to release the tendon sheath usually reserved for persisting inflammation after failure of at least one cortisone injection.

How can physiotherapy help?

At Physio Savvy, the Physiotherapist will:

  • Provide a thorough assessment to ensure the level of your injury. From there the Physiotherapist will discuss with you the treatment plan to treat your case

  • A comprehensive Physiotherapy treatment using manual techniques, modalities to ease your symptoms they will plan a home exercise program that dealt with most cases of de Quervains tenosynovitis

However, the key to success in this treatment is through your compliance.

While waiting for your physiotherapy appointment, you can:

  • Rest sufficiently from any activity that increases your pain until they are symptom free.

  • To minimise any high impact activities – which involves in large amount of stress to your thumb so that the body can begin the healing process in the absence of further tissue damage.

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Afiq Muhammad

Afiq Muhammad

Physiotherapist at Physio Savvy
Afiq Graduated with BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy from MARA University of Technology. His past work experience involves varied cases in various fields, making his patient care hollistic and patient based. He is most interested and experienced in the fields of musculoskeletal conditions and sporting injuries.
Afiq Muhammad

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Posted in Musculoskeletal Disorders.