de Quervain’s tendinitis occurs when the tendons around the base of the thumb are irritated or constricted. The word “tendinitis” refers to a swelling of the tendons which causes pain. Thickening of the tendons can cause pain and tenderness along the thumb side of the wrist. This is particularly noticeable when forming a fist, grasping or gripping things, or when turning the wrist. The irritation causes the lining (synovium) around the tendon to swell, which changes the shape of the compartment. This makes it difficult for the tendons to move as they should.
Tendinitis may be the result of many conditions. It may be caused by overuse. It can be seen in association with pregnancy. It may be found in inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid disease. de Quervain’s tendinitis is usually most common in middle-aged women. Surgical and non-surgical treatments can provide the necessary relief from this painful disorder.
- Swelling may be seen over the thumb side of the wrist. This swelling may occur together with a fluid-filled cyst in this region.
- A “catching” or “snapping” sensation may be felt when moving the thumb.
- Pain and swelling may make it difficult to move the thumb and wrist.
- Numbness may be experienced on the back of the thumb and index finger. This is caused as the nerve lying on top of the tendon sheath is irritated.
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Meet the Doctor
After graduating from Loma Linda School of Medicine Dr. Unsell spent more than a decade serving at Loma Linda in several positions including the Assistant Professor of Orthopedics as well as the Assistant director of the Hand Fellowship Program. He has been involved with the training of 35 hand fellows, 15 of which now hold academic teaching positions.