DeQuervain's disease is an irritation and swelling of the sheath or tunnel that surrounds the thumb tendons as they pass from the wrist to the thumb. The source of DeQuervain's disease is often unknown, but it may be caused by overuse and repetitive motions and has been associated with pregnancy and certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Although anyone can get DeQuervain's, it affects women considerably more often than men.
Symptoms may include
- Twinges of pain at the base of the thumb or the thumb side of the wrist.
- Pain that appears gradually or suddenly, and it is felt in the wrist and can travel up the forearm.
- Pain that is usually worse with use of the hand and thumb, especially when forcefully grasping things or lifting items such as a gallon of milk.
DeQuervain's Disease Treatment
In almost all cases, nonsurgical treatments are explored first. Splints, oral anti-inflammatory medications or injections may help reduce the irritation and swelling. Temporary avoidance of activities that cause pain may also ward off symptoms.
For those cases that do not respond to nonsurgical treatments, surgery may be recommended. The procedure enlarges the tendon compartment to make more room for the irritated tendon. Normal use of the hand can be resumed once comfort and strength return.