I Think I Have de Quervain’s – What Should I Do About It?

symptoms causes and treatment of de quervains thumb pain

If your thumb hurts every time you turn your wrist, grasp something or make a fist- you are probably looking for answers on what is causing your thumb pain? After doing some initial research, you may be saying to yourself –   “I think I have de Quervain’s” and are searching for ways to relieve your pain.  Read on for a better understanding of de quervain’s and to learn about the symptoms, treatment options and how thumb braces can help with your thumb and wrist pain.

What is de Quervain’s and What Causes it?

(D-quare-vanes T-no-sigh-no-vie-tis) is inflammation of the tendons at the base of your thumb, on the side of your wrist. Although the exact cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is unknown, the most common cause is from constant overuse when lifting or performing side to side motions with your hand and wrist. Any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movements — such as lifting a child into a car seat, playing the piano, working in the garden, or playing golf or tennis, can make it worse. Arthritis and direct injury can also cause de Quervain’s.

You are more likely to develop it if:

  • you’re a women over 40 years of age or you are pregnant (hormonal changes can cause it)
  • you have injured your wrist
  • your job or activities involve repetitive hand and wrist movements
  • you have inflammatory arthritis

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Symptoms of de Quervain’s

  • Pain and swelling along the thumb side of the wrist is the most common symptom
  • Shooting pain down to the end of the thumb or up along the thumb side of the forearm
  • Pain when making a fist and extending the thumb upwards in a “hitchhiker” motion
  • Reduced grip strength

Treatment Options for de Quervain’s

The most common treatments are to first use anti-inflammatories and rest. Anti-inflammatory treatments include icing your thumb for 10-15 minutes, several times a day and taking anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.  If over-the-counter medications don’t help relieve your pain, a steroid injection may be needed.

Resting your thumb in an extended position, with the wrist in a neutral position can also help to reduce inflammation and limit the motions that can cause your thumb pain.  Depending on the severity of your condition, there are several different braces that can be used to rest your thumb and wrist.

Thumb Braces for de Quervain’s

Light Support Splint

If you have very mild or occasional symptoms, the 3pp ThumSpica provides light support and acts as a reminder to avoid the thumb and wrist positions that cause your pain.

3pp thumspica thumb brace for dequervains
3pp Thumspica

Firm Support Splint

The NEW 3pp Ez FIT ThumSpica Splint provides relief from pain while giving you the comfort you need. Ultra light and fully cushioned, the longer length provides firm adjustable support to your thumb and wrist, while leaving your fingers free for daily activities.

3pp ez fit thumb spica splint for de quervains
3pp Ez FIT ThumSpica

Other Ways to Treat de Quervain’s

It’s important to think about the activities that cause your pain and to try to either avoid these activities until your pain subsides or try doing the activity differently to put less stress on your thumb. Injuries such as this can take quite a while to heal and removing your thumb brace too early or resuming the activities that may aggravate your problem can delay your healing process.

If your de Quervain’s is severe or long lasting, surgery may be required to release the sheath covering the tendons to allow them to move.  This is usually a very successful surgery and can be a good choice when other treatments are not effective.

Consulting with your health care provider is important before attempting to treat your thumb problem.  Your health care provider, or if necessary a specialist in treating hand conditions can provide you with a diagnosis and the recommended treatment options for your condition.

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3pp Thumspica for de quervains thumb pain
Thumb Braces for de Quervain’s

Our blogs are presented for informational purposes only and are not to be considered medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic intervention. We are happy to answer questions or comments pertaining to any products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

2 comments on “I Think I Have de Quervain’s – What Should I Do About It?

  1. I had this problem several years ago and it got so bad that nothing helped. I finally had surgery done to repair it. The surgery went very well however the healing process is very long. Was in a hard cast for 6 weeks and then a splint that was made to fit my hand and could only be removed for physical therapy and to shower. Even though it was painful and a long recovery it was worth the surgery.

    1. Hi Ariene – just came across your 2015 article re having your surgery for de quervains – Ive had thumb issues for nearly 12months now and previously when I had my issue I had a steroid injection which seemed to fix it – this time my gp did not offer this – told me to just rest and it should improve – it has slightly improved but nothing major – I guess I need to proceed towards looking into a possible surgery and Ive lost two whole seasons of my sport (golf) and feel pretty miserable – i am wondering what the long term results are after your op ? Im hoping all is good with you now ? regards Annette

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