de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
Tenosynovitis is inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon as opposed to inflammation of the actual tendon itself (tendinitis or tendonitis). de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is inflammation of the synovium of the abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis longus muscles as they pass through the wrist (on the thumb side of the wrist). It occurs more frequently in racket sports such as tennis, squash or badminton as well as canoeing and ten pin bowling. It also occurs in golfers (left thumb of a right handed golfer and vice versa).
- Tenderness and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist where the tendons pass.
- Crepitus may be felt (a creaking of the tendon as it moves).
- Finkelstein’s test may be positive (thumb is placed in the palm of the hand and wrist moved laterally towards the little finger to stretch the tendons - pain may be felt).
- Rest, splinting if necessary.
- Using an extra thick pen may help as this reduces the stretch on the tendons when writing.
- Ice or cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
- A cortisone injection may be given.
- In rare cases surgery may be indicated.
- To help rehabilitate your wrist, stretch the area. Rest your elbow on a level surface. A desk or table works well for this exercise. Elevate your forearm until it is vertical with your chosen surface, and then bend your wrist (palm toward the table) so that your hand and forearm make about 90-degree angle. With gentle pressure from your other hand, hold this position between 15 to 30 seconds, and then return your wrist to its original position. Keeping your arm in this same position, bend your wrist back in the other direction. With gentle pressure from your other hand, press down on your fingers to counter-stretch the wrist, holding this position between 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat these two stretching exercises until you’ve completed 3 sets of each.
- With the next exercise, drop your forearm until it rests on the level surface with the outside of the hand touching the table (your thumb should be pointing toward the ceiling). Place a weighted object in the palm of this hand, making sure you can comfortably hold it. Canned goods work well for this exercise. Keeping your forearm on the table, lift the object up and then return your hand to its original position. Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Maintaining your grip on the weighted object, roll your forearm so the palm of your hand now faces the level surface. This exercise is very similar to the previous one, because you’ll lift the can up off the table so that the back of your hand faces you and then lower it back down. Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Still maintaining your hold on the object, roll your forearm so the back of your hand now rests on the level surface. Bend your wrist up off the table, lifting the object toward you, and then return it to its original position. Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Leave the back of your hand resting on the table, but set aside the weighted object. You no longer need it for the rest of the exercises. Keeping the back of your hand on the table, bring your thumb and little finger together and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat with your ring finger, middle finger and index finger, holding each for 5 seconds. Repeat these movements until you’ve completed 10 repetitions for each finger.
- Leaving the back of your hand on the table, place a rubber ball in your palm. Squeeze the object, holding anywhere between 5 to 10 seconds, and then release. Much like the other exercises, repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Set the ball aside and wrap a rubber band around your fingers so that it cups the thumb and little finger of your affected hand. Stretch your fingers as wide as possible, holding for 5 seconds, and then release. Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.