De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a painful inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist, causing discomfort when turning, gripping, or making a fist. Although the cause of this condition isn’t known, it can be aggravated by any activity that causes repetitive hand or wrist movement.
It is useful to identify the cause (often, repetitive activity such as hammering or playing tennis) so it can be avoided, ice packs and splints can also help settle acute symptoms of De Quervain’s, along with painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents.
If these actions prove to be unsuccessful, or the condition reoccurs, surgery is recommended to open the fibrous tunnel to release the tendons and reduce friction. This usually gets rid of the pain quickly.
During surgery for De Quervain’s we remove the dense bands of fibrous tissue, so the joints can then be straightened. Firm padded bandaging is applied with a splint, usually for 1 – 4 weeks post-operatively.
Surgery is done on an outpatient basis under local anaesthesia or an arm block. Treating the wound with steroid before closure may help prevent further fibrosis, particularly in severe cases. Following surgery, the hand is put in a high sling to reduce swelling.
A wound check and dressing change are done at one week and sutures are removed after two weeks. Your surgeon may recommend a rehabilitation programme under the guidance of a Hand Therapist.
Splints are used for several weeks after surgery for comfort. The procedure, which has a high rate of success, is minor, taking about 40 minutes and resulting in an inconspicuous scar on the thumb side of the wrist.