Explaining Painful Hand Tendonitis

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a condition that causes pain and swelling of the tendons of the thumb and wrist. Tendons connect muscles to bones and slide through a sheath. Sliding easily allows the thumb to move without pain. When tendons cannot slide through the sheath, movements of the thumb and wrist become difficult, causing hand tendonitis.


Why hand tendonitis occurs

The exact cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is not clear. However, a few reasons to occur include repetitive or chronic overuse, direct injury, or inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Additionally, there are some risk factors that make one prone to developing this condition. Adults between 30-50 years old, women, pregnant, and involved with caring for a baby are common risk factors. Some hobbies such as skiing, gardening, and racquet sports can also lead to hand tendonitis.

How does it feel?

Pain and swelling are the 2 common symptoms felt when having de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. The symptoms occur on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. The symptoms worsen as one uses more of the hand and thumb. Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist occurs, especially during grasping or pinching. A popping sensation may also be experienced during movement.

Solving my painful hand conservatively

Treating painful hand tendonitis can be done conservatively or surgically. The doctor will begin treating the condition with conservative methods such as splints and medications. A splint keeps the wrist and thumb in place to prevent movements and is usually worn at night. Medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections to lessen pain and swelling. The healthcare provider will recommend avoiding certain activities that exacerbate the symptoms.

The need for surgery

The doctor will suggest surgery if the symptoms are severe or if there is no improvement despite trying conservative treatments. This surgery aims to release the sheath to create space, reduce symptoms, and improve movement. This is an outpatient surgery done under local anesthesia. After the surgery, symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis are relieved and physical therapy is advised to improve strength.

After treating hand tendonitis

Regardless of the treatment, the prognosis of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is good. Up to 80% of patients have responded well to conservative treatments. Even those who undergo surgery have a high success rate with rare complications. One can resume activities after the wrist and thumb are completely recovered with normal strength levels.

Seeking help

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis causes pain and inflammation of the thumb and wrist which can be managed with or without surgery. Speak to the doctor about possible treatment options. Ask about risk factors and how to avoid getting another hand tendonitis. Overall, this hand condition is manageable with a good outlook.

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