De Quervain’s Tendonitis

De Quervain’s Tendonitis (also known as ‘first dorsal compartment tendonitis’) is a condition brought on by irritation of tendons across the wrist at the base of the thumb. This irritation causes pain on movement of the thumb and wrist. Common painful movements include making a fist and grasping or holding objects.


The main symptom is pain over the thumb-side of the wrist. The pain may come on gradually or suddenly and may radiate down the thumb or up the forearm. There may be increased pain with hand and thumb motion, leading to difficulty with pinch activities. Other symptoms include swelling at the site of pain, ‘clicking’ or ‘snapping’ and numbness on the back of the thumb and index finger.


Non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Wearing a splint to rest the thumb and wrist
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injections around the tendons

These treatments help reduce the swelling, which can relieve pain over time. In some cases, simply stopping the aggravating activities may relieve symptoms.

When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery is usually recommended. The tight fibrous tissue around the tendons is released to make room for the irritated tendons, which prevents irritation occurring.


Normal use of the hand can usually be resumed within a few weeks. Surgery has a low complication rate and is usually performed as day surgery. There is some pain during the recovery period. No splint is required.

More Information on De Quervain’s Tendonitis

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Hand DeQuervain’s tendonitis