De Quervain's disease

De Quervain's disease is swelling and inflammation of the tendons and the tendon sheath on the thumb side of the wrist.

The exact cause of de Quervain's disease is not known. It may occur from injury to the wrist or tendon or as a result of activities that require repeated wrist and thumb movements, such as knitting, wringing clothes, or lifting heavy objects.

Symptoms may include swelling, a grating feeling in the wrist, and pain and weakness along the thumb, wrist, and forearm. Pain increases with activities such as lifting or pouring.

Initial treatment consists of rest, splinting, stretching, and medications to decrease inflammation. Physical therapy, a steroid injection, or surgery may sometimes be needed.

Last Updated: January 5, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & David Pichora, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery

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