Julian Carlo, MD - Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon

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a diagram explaining dequervain's tenosynovitis

DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis

What is it?

DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammatory condition that affects certain tendons and their sheath at the level of the wrist.

What causes it?

Two tendons, the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus, travel together in a sheath over the radial styloid of the wrist as they move towards the thumb. Repetitive motions of the wrist or thumb are thought to result in thickening of the sheath, which constricts the natural motion of the tendons and causes inflammation and pain. This syndrome is common in mothers or grandmothers caring for newborn infants, but can affect anyone.

What are the symptoms?

Pain over the thumb side of the wrist extending into the forearm associated with movement of the wrist and thumb is the main symptom. There may be swelling over the tendons as well.

How is it treated?

Rest, anti-inflammatories, splinting, and steroid injections into the tendon sheath form the basis of conservative management. Injections can be repeated, but when these measures fail to provide adequate relief, surgery is indicated. During surgery, an incision in the skin over the tendons is made and the sheath is exposed. The tendon sheath is cut lengthwise,
decompressing the tendons.

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