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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is De Quervain's tendinitis?

    I've had a painful left wrist since my son was born 6 weeks ago. A woman in my mothers' group said it could be De Quervain's tendinitis. What did I do to get this and how can I get rid of it?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2




    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical … View Profile

    De Quervain's tenosynovitis (or tendinitis) is a painful irritation of the thumb tendons at the wrist. It was first described by the Swiss surgeon Fritz de Quervain in 1895. The tendons become inflamed, swollen and thickened. It may be due to repetitive movements, overuse or an inflammatory process. Often there is no clear reason for the condition to have developed. De Quervain's tenosynovitis is 10 times more common in women than men, and it most commonly affects individuals aged 30-50. It is common in new mothers, but whether this is due to repetitive movements or hormonal changes, or a combination of these factors (or other factors!) is unknown. The pain may develop suddenly or gradually, and may limit thumb movement. It is worst with forceful movement and twisting.

    There are both non-surgical and surgical ways to treat this condition. The health professionals that most commonly treat de Quervain's are hand surgeons and hand therapists and the condition is most easily treated early - so seek help rather than trying to soldier on. To read about the treatment options please visit the de Quervain's tenosynovitis information page at the Melbourne Hand Surgery website.

  • James is passionate about osteopathy, it’s philosophy and works with facilitating the bodies innate drive for health and balance. He enjoys teaching patients about how … View Profile

    Great answer above,

    Osteopaths also treat De Quervains. A treatment would involve improving local tissue circulation by removing any mechanical causes for hinderence to blood and lymphatic fluid. Reducing mechanical overload through the tendon by addressing local joints and those distant to the area but involved for the same functional movement. Altering certain ergonomics in relation to lifestyle factors which may also effect the function of the tendon. 

    Hope this helps. If you would like more informtaiton on Osteopathy feel free to check out the link

  • 1


    Erika Lassig

    Occupational Therapist (OT)

    Erika has over 10 years experience practising hand therapy. She has worked in hand and upper limb rehabilitation at a variety of centres including Logan … View Profile

    As mentioned above, deQuervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of two long thumb tendons at the wrist (APL& EPB) as they pass through a synovial sheath. The tendons and the sheath often become inflamed, hence the name "teno" (tendon) "synov" (synovial) "itis" (inflammation). It is common in new mums but we aren't sure why. Perhaps it is caused by the hormone changes or because you hold or lift your baby in certain way.

    There are three treatment options: therapy, unltrasound-guided steroid injection or surgical release. Therapy is often the first treatment option for new mums.

    Therapy usually involves a splint or brace for 3-4 weeks to support the thumb and wrist which offloads the inflamed tendons.

    In my practice I also recommend some specific strengthening exercises for the affected tendons, called isometric exercises, to help heal and strengthen the tendons. These exercises are low repetition, gentle and should be relatively pain-free.

    In addition, soft tissue massage or trigger point release via acupressure or dry needling may assist in providing pain relief.

    A steroid injection sometimes only provides short term relief as the tendons remain weak. However, if therapy is done at the same time to gently strengthen the tendons then there may be a higher chance of success.

    Surgery may be offered but is usually only required in severe cases where therapy or steroid injections have not succeeded.

    You can find a therapist in your area with expertise in treating hand conditions on the Australian Hand Therapy Association website

    I hope you find some relief to your symptoms soon.

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