Injuries Unpacked #8: de Quervain Syndrome

What is de Quervain’s Syndrome?

De Quervain’s Syndrome is inflammation of the tunnel where two thumb tendons run close to your wrist. The movement of these tendons known as the abductor pollicus longus and extensor pollicis brevis can become restricted due to this inflammation which causes pain on the outside of your wrist. De Quervain’s Syndrome is more common in women with new-borns or young children, or people that use their hands and wrists a lot for work (like tradies, using hammers). 

How is de Quervain’s Syndrome caused?

The main causes of de Quervain’s Syndrome are:

  • Repetitive hand or thumb movements such as bending, gripping or squeezing
  • Repetitive wrist bending

Symptoms of de Quervain’s Syndrome

Symptoms below usually appear gradually and worsen over time without treatment

  • Pain or burning at the base of the thumb near the wrist during or after repetitive actions
  • Difficulties gripping objects
  • Pain on moving the wrist when the thumb is tucked into the palm
  • Swelling around the base of the thumb and wrist
  • If not treated, pain can start to spread up the forearm

How will a physio diagnose your condition?

A good history of the presentation of your hand and wrist pain will usually indicate that de Quervain’s Syndrome is present. A simple test known as the Finkelstein test will also be performed to help diagnose your condition.

How will your wrist be treated?

Treatment will involve looking at the cause of your condition and modifying your activities to reduce the stress placed in this area. A combination of strength training, stretches and some hands on treatment is effective in reducing the pain and improving the function of your thumb and hand. Splinting and taping can also be used in the short term to help reduce the pain.

If this sounds like something that you may be experiencing, as always give the clinic a call and we can help you get back on track and moving pain free.