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Treating De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

The goal of your treatment is to relieve your pain and allow you to use your thumb again. Treatment will depend on how severe the pain is.

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Nonsurgical Treatment

Just taking a break from the activities that caused your pain may be enough. Your doctor may also have you take oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, or wear a splint for a few weeks to rest the thumb and wrist. To reduce the swelling, your doctor may inject an anti-inflammatory, such as cortisone, around the tendons. You may have more pain at first, but in a few days your thumb should feel better.

The tendon sheath is released during surgery to allow more space for the tendons. This frees the tendons to move more easily and relieves the inflammation.


If other kinds of treatment don’t relieve your pain, or if the pain is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery. The sheath that surrounds the tendons is released so the tendons can move more easily. This helps reduce the inflammation, and allows you to straighten your thumb without pain. Usually, surgery takes a few minutes and is done with local anesthetic, so you can go home the same day. You will probably have a splint or dressing on your wrist for a few days while the tissue heals. Your doctor will discuss the risks and possible complications of surgery with you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 8/27/2013
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