de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis | Treatment


How is de Quervain’s tenosynovitis treated?

Treatment for de Quervain's tenosynovitis focuses on reducing pain and swelling. It includes the following:

  • Using a splint 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 weeks to rest your thumb and wrist.
  • Applying heat or ice to the affected area.
  • Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (also called NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (two brand names: Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (one brand name: Aleve).
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain and swelling, especially those that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions.

Your doctor may recommend injections of steroids or a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) into the tendon sheath to help reduce swelling and pain.

A physical therapist or occupational therapist can show you how to reduce stress on your wrist by changing how you move. He or she can also teach you exercises to strengthen your muscles. Most people notice improvement in 4 to 6 weeks and are able to use their hands and wrists without pain once the swelling is gone.

It is important to treat de Quervain's tenosynovitis. If this condition isn’t treated, it can permanently limit your movement or cause the tendon sheath to burst.

Will I need surgery for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

You might need surgery if your case is severe or if other treatments don’t relieve your pain. During outpatient surgery, the surgeon makes a small cut in the sheath around the swollen tendons. This provides more room for the tendons to move.

After surgery, you will need to do physical therapy to strengthen your wrist and thumb, and to prevent the problem from coming back. Once the area has healed and returned to full strength, you should have normal use of your hand.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 11/09