DeQuervain's Tendinitis

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If you suffer from pain on the inside of your wrist and forearm just above the thumb, you may have a common condition called DeQuervain's tendinitis, also known as DeQuervain's tenosynovitis or tendinosis, which affects the tendons in the wrist that attach to the thumb.

On their way to the thumb, tendons pass through the DeQuervain's tunnel at the base of the radius bone in the forearm which helps hold them in place. The tunnel is lined with a slippery sheath (tenosynovium) that allows the tendons to glide easily back and forth as they move the thumb. DeQuervain's tendinitis is an inflammation of this sheath, although both the sheath and the tendons may simultaneously become inflamed.

The cause is usually strain, overuse, injury, or excessive exercise, and it occurs more frequently in individuals who play racquet sports, such as tennis, badminton or squash, and other sports that involve repetitive side to side wrist movements, such as golf, bowling and canoeing. It may also affect people with rheumatoid arthritis and those with scar tissue from a previous wrist injury.

Symptoms of DeQuervain's tendinitis include soreness on the thumb side of the forearm, near the wrist. You may notice it when making a fist, turning the wrist or gripping objects. Some people also experience a creaking noise called crepitus when moving the wrist.

The hand subspecialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group can usually diagnose DeQuervain's tenosynovitis through a physical examination of the wrist.

To alleviate pain, he or she may suggest that you avoid repetitive hand and thumb motions. A splint may help the tendons rest and give them a chance to heal. Anti-inflammatory medications may ease your symptoms, and cortisone injections may help reduce any swelling. If conservative treatments do not work, you may need surgery to create more space for the tendons.

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