De Quervain's Tenosynovitis



The exact cause of de Quervain tenosynovitis not known. It may be due to injury, such as repetitive motion or a direct blow to the area.

Risk Factors

De Quervain tenosynovitis is more common in women who are over 40 years of age. It is also more common during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Sports, such as cross-country skiing
  • Repeatedly lifting a baby, young child, or pet
  • Certain jobs, such as those that involve using a hammer or similar tool



Problems may be:

  • Pain at the base of the thumb and sometimes along the forearm
  • Pain when using the hand and thumb, such as when grabbing or twisting items
  • Swelling or a fluid-filled cyst over the thumb side of the wrist
  • A snapping or catching feeling when moving the thumb


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your hand and arm. This is all that is needed for diagnosis.



The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote movement. This may be done with:

  • Limiting activities
  • A splint to help rest the area
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy to improve function


Surgery may be done if other methods do not help. The surgery will open the tunnel so the tendons can move freely.


There are no current guidelines to lower the risk of de Quervain tenosynovitis.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.