How is de Quervain’s tendinosis treated?

De Quervain’s tendinosis may be treated with non-surgical methods that help manage painful symptoms or with surgery.

Non-surgical treatments

Your healthcare provider may start with non-surgical treatments to improve your symptoms. These non-surgical treatments can include:

  • Using splints. Splints may be worn to rest the wrist and thumb and keep it from moving. Splints are usually worn 24-hours-a-day for four to six weeks.
  • Applying ice to your thumb and wrist area to reduce swelling.
  • Avoiding activities that are causing pain and swelling.
  • Taking medications. If symptoms continue, your doctor may give you anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, to decrease pain and swelling. Steroid injection(s) into the tendon sheath may also be considered.

Surgical treatments

If non-surgical treatments do not help relieve pain and swelling, surgery may be recommended.

Surgery for de Quervain’s tendinosis is an outpatient procedure typically done under local anesthesia or with mild sedation. During the surgery, a tiny cut is made in the sheath through which the tendons pass. Cutting the sheath allows more room for the tendons to slide more easily through the sheath. The goal of this surgery is to eliminate pain and swelling and restore the range of motion to the thumb and wrist.

Upon recovery, your physician will recommend an exercise program to strengthen your thumb and wrist. Recovery times vary, depending on your age, general health, and how long the symptoms have been present.

In cases that have developed gradually, the tendinosis is usually more difficult to manage. It may take longer for symptoms to disappear and for the thumb and wrist to regain their range of motion.

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