De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 have a higher risk of developing de Quervain's tenosynovitis than do those in other age groups.  Constant overuse of the wrist is commonly linked with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. The condition can occur gradually or suddenly and can cause great pain and restricted movement of the tendons. Many individuals experience swelling and have difficult pinching or grasping objects. If pain increases and restricts thumb and wrist motion, seeking medical care is advised.



Signs and symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Pain near the base of the thumb
  • Swelling of the wrist
  • Tenderness of the wrist
  • Stiffness and numbness of the thumb or wrist
  • Restricted movement of the thumb and wrist



Although the exact cause of de Quervain's tenosynovitis isn't known, any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement (gardening, playing golf, lifting a baby, and others) can worsen the condition and restrict the movement of the tendons. Other causes of de Quervain's tenosynovitis include direct injury to the wrist or tendon and inflammatory arthritis.


Risk factors 

Factors associated with an increased risk of developing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Being female
  • Being of age over 40
  • Being pregnant
  • Injury to the wrist
  • Arthritis
  • Overuse of the hand and wrist



If de Quervain's tenosynovitis is left untreated, it may be hard to use the hand and wrist properly, thus limiting movement. Complications that might arise from surgical treatment of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Nerve injury
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Stiffness of the thumb
  • Pain and numbness over the back of the thumb and hand
  • Limited thumb and wrist movement
  • Recurrence



A few recommendations for preventing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis may include:

  • Avoiding repetitive movement of the hand and wrist
  • Exercising the thumb, hand and wrist
  • Taking breaks to rest and reduce stress on the wrists
  • Avoiding lifting heavy objects