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De Quervain's tenosynovitis

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Is a common cause of pain along the thumb or near the wrist. The condition is caused by swelling of two tendons that travel along the side of the wrist into the thumb. These two muscles are called abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis. These two muscles straighten your thumb and assist with moving your thumb away from your index finger.

Pain usually comes on gradually and worsens over time. Sometimes pain can be immediate such as if a direct hit occurs to the thumb or wrist area. Activities such as gripping, pinching, lifting and twisting objects can make the pain worse.

De Quervain’s commonly occurs during or after pregnancy (e.g. holding newborn while breastfeeding). New parents can also experience De Quervain’s from lifting their newborn. People who have occupations involving manual labour may also develop De Quervain’s due to repetitive activities. Other activities involving repetitive use of the hand and thumb such as knitting can also cause De Quervain’s.


Treatment for De Quervain’s includes customised splinting, avoiding aggravating activities, manual therapy and strengthening exercises.

Cavaleri, R., Schabrun, S. M., Te, M., & Chipchase, L.S. (2016). Hand therapy versus corticosteroid injections in the treatment of de Quervain's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hand Therapy.

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