De Quervain Syndrome

Patients with de Quervain syndrome have painful tendons on the thumb side of the wrist.  Tendons are the ropes that the muscle uses to pull the bone.  You can see them on the back of your hand when you straighten your fingers.  In de Quervain syndrome, the tunnel (the first extensor compartment; see Figure 1A-B) where the tendons run narrows due to the thickening of the soft tissues that make up the tunnel. Hand and thumb motion cause pain, especially with forceful grasping or twisting.

Treatments that attempt to change the course of the disease include:

  • A cortisone-type of steroid injection into the tendon compartment. It has not been clearly established that these injections change the course of the disease and response to the injection varies.
  • Surgery to open the tunnel and make more room for the tendons.
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