One of the most common tendon conditions to affect the wrist is DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis. It is a condition of tendon irritation that occurs when two of the tendons which move the thumb pass through a narrowed tunnel on the thumb side of the wrist (Fig 1). Complaints of pain come with repetitive thumb and wrist motion.

DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis fig 1

(Figure 1) Courtesy: ASSH

fig 2

(Figure 2a) Courtesy: ASSH

fig 2 (1)

(Figure 2b) Courtesy: ASSH

DeQuervain’s most commonly affects new mothers and restaurant staff, but anyone is susceptible. Pain felt on the bone two finger breadths below the base of the thumb and pain caused by clenching the thumb with the fingers and then tilting the hand away from the thumb (Finkelstein’s maneuver [Fig. 2a/b]) are classic signs.

Early treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications and a splint which keeps the thumb and wrist from moving. If this is not effective, a steroid injection may be helpful. Ultimately, surgery may be required to open the tunnel where the tendons are being irritated. This is a simple outpatient procedure which can be done under minimal to no sedation in 10 minutes. Complete recovery is usually expected after 4-6 weeks.

If you feel you have DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, or would like to be seen and evaluated by a hand surgeon, call 407-418-0581, or email

Written by Michael D. Riggenbach, M.D.