De Quervain's Disease
De Quervain’s disease refers to a painful inflammation that occurs around the tendons along the base of the thumb. There are two main tendons (connect muscle to bone) that pass through a narrow tunnel on the side of the wrist near the base of the thumb. If these tendons become inflamed or thickened, pain can develop when the thumb or wrist is used.
Symptoms of De Quervain’s disease include pain along the thumb side of the wrist. Pain can radiate up to the forearm in some cases. A catching type sensation also can be felt with moving the thumb. Swelling may also be seen.
The underlying cause of De Quervain’s is unknown but is believed to be from overuse. Other risk factors include trauma to the thumb, rheumatoid arthritis, and repetitive gripping. Women are far more likely to be affected by this disease than men.
The diagnosis of De Quervain’s is made by physical examination by an orthopaedic surgeon. Reproduction of pain along the base of the thumb with certain maneuvers can aid in diagnosing this problem.
Treat for De Quervain’s disease includes activity modification, the use of a splint to rest the wrist and thumb, and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID). A corticosteroid injection may be given into the tendon sheath to reduce pain and inflammation.
Surgery may be recommended for those who fail to improve with conservative treatment. The surgical procedure involves releasing the tight covering along the tendon so that the tendon glides smoothly. This is performed on an outpatient basis.