DeQuervain`s Stenosing Tenosynovitis
© Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Natalie Duffy, Communications.
1st edition April 2012. Review date: April 2013.
Designed by NHS Creative – SLA32225
Patient Information and Guidance
What is it?
DeQuervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis
is thickening of the sheath that
surrounds the thumb tendons,
which run between the wrist and
the thumb. There is obvious swelling
and thickening of the sheath and it
becomes very painful to move the
An episode of tenosynovitis may last
for only a few days but it can become
more persistent and last for several
weeks or months.
Who gets it?
Stop doing any activity that irritates the
condition, such as sport or typing, or
at least reduce it. This will help prevent
any further inflammation or damage.
Anyone can develop signs of De
Quervain’s and it is usually associated
with over use or strain. It is also
common in new mothers.
Resting the tendon
It is important to rest the affected
area. This will allow the inflammation
to settle. Some form of support, such
as a bandage, splint or brace, may be
helpful as this will reduce movement.
l pain that becomes worse if you move the affected thumb and wrist,
l weakness in the affected area (because of the pain), and
If there is swelling and evidence of
inflammation, a steroid injection
around the affected tendon or into the
tendon sheath is usually very effective.
For significant symptoms that do not
respond to an injection or two, surgery
is usually effective. Under a local
anaesthetic the sheath is released.
Content adapted from NHS Choices. For more
information please visit www.nhs.uk
Hand therapy can be useful in
providing a splint and advising
you about exercise and use of the
thumb. A therapist can also help
with anti-inflammatory techniques
and education about preventing
You can ease the pain and swelling by
applying an ice pack to the affected
l a sensation that the tendon is grating or crackling as it moves (this area. Do not use ice directly on your
skin as this may cause a cold burn.
may be felt on examination),
Wrap it in a towel or put a towel over
l swelling, sometimes with heat or the injured area, before applying ice.
l a lump that develops along the tendon.
Tenosynovitis may be treated with
mild non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
painkillers (NSAIDs), such as
ibuprofen. These should not be used
for long periods of time and are not
recommended for people with asthma
or kidney or liver disease.
Ordinary painkillers such as paracetamol
will also help to ease the pain.