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What is De Quervain’s Tendinitis?

De Quervain’s Tendinitis is a condition involving constriction and inflammation of swollen tendons at the wrist near the base of the thumb. A number of the tendons that move your thumb pass through a narrow tunnel (sheath) at the wrist before going into the thumb. These tendons help to move your thumb in a motion of opening and closing your grip and De Quervain’s Tendinitis is inflammation between the tendons and the surrounding sheath.

When the tendons become irritated and swollen, the tunnel becomes excessively tight and leads to further discomfort. The condition is named after a Swiss surgeon, Dr. Fritz de Quervain, who first identified the problem in 1895. Though this condition is common in some athletes, women who are perimenopausal, pregnant, and postpartum are more prone to developing De Quervain’s tendinitis.

De Quervain’s Anatomy

De Quervain’s tendinitis occurs when the tendons on the side of your thumb become inflamed. Over time, the tendons will become inflamed to the point where they can no longer move comfortably through their sheaths. It is at this point where patients notice a stark increase in discomfort and a decrease in their range of motion.

When is De Quervain’s Tendon Release Surgery Required?

When a patient is first diagnosed with De Quervain’s tendinitis, they will be put on a treatment plan that is conservative to try and resolve the issue without surgery.

Physical and occupational therapy, rest, splinting, and stretches can help many patients regain their comfort, grip strength, and mobility. Steroid injections can also be used to help reduce the tendon inflammation on the side of the thumb which causes De Quervain’s tendinitis.

If conservative treatments are unable to provide relief, the experienced surgeons at HandSport Surgery Institute may recommend De Quervain’s surgery.

Left untreated, a patient with De Quervain’s tendinitis may have diminished range of motion and chronic pain in their thumb. The tendon may slowly tear through attrition. When other options do not work, Dr. Jason and Dr. Mark Pruzansky will examine your specific case to determine whether to perform a De Quervain’s tendon release surgery.

What does the De Quervain’s Tendinitis Surgery Entail

The procedure to release the inflamed tendon along the side of your thumb does not differ too greatly from other tendon release procedures, like for trigger finger. During this procedure, your orthopedic hand surgeon will make an incision on the thumb side of the wrist and release the sheath around the swollen tendon.

With the pressure released, your tendon can begin to move without restriction. After a short time, the tendons should be able to heal and patients can begin to move comfortably again. Many patients have explained that their discomfort was relieved immediately following their procedure.

What is the Recovery Time Like

Following your procedure, Dr. Mark and Dr. Jason Pruzansky will discuss the rehab process you will go through in order to get the best possible results. Light motion can begin a few days following the surgery, and physical therapy is sometimes advised to quickly regain dexterity and grip strength, although most patients defer professional physical therapy. Recovery is generally only a few weeks.

If You Are Experiencing Hand Pain, Please Contact Us

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. Hand pain can present in many ways, including De Quervain’s tendonitis. Call Dr. Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis.

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