De Quervain's disease

What is it?

De Quervain tendinitis is a common condition where there is irritation of the tendons as they pass under a normal ligament that runs along the thumb side of the wrist. Pain is made worse by pulling up your thumb or flexing it into your palm.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your thumb is working. You might need some additional tests:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Most cases settle with physiotherapy but occasionally a corticosteroid injection can settle the condition. In resistant cases and as a last resort, surgery can incise and release the tight ligament that is irritating the tendons allowing them to run freely.

The surgery only takes 10 minutes and a light bandage is applied. Often absorbable sutures are used and the wound needs to be kept dry and covered for 10 days. Most symptoms improve in the first few days and a return to normal activities should occur within a few weeks.

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