De Quervain's Tenosynovitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is De Quervain's Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tendon sheath (synovium) at the base of the thumb. The tendons that move the thumb become constricted in a tight tunnel.

The inflammation comes from the friction created as the tendon glides along the thumb with repeated movements, leading to pain and numbness

What are the Symptoms of De Quervain's Tenosynovitis?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness over the wrist joint near the base of the thumb (main symptom).
  • Pain that gets worse after increased activity involving the wrist, thumb, and hand.
  • Pain that begins as an aching sensation and progresses to a point when any movement of the wrist or thumb produces a sharp pain in the affected area.
  • Swelling near the base of the thumb.
  • Numbness along the back of the thumb and index finger.

What are the Risk Factors of De Quervain's Tenosynovitis?

The usual cause of De Quervain’s disease or De Quervain’s syndrome is chronic overuse of the wrist due to daily, repetitive movements. It could also be caused by inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and past wrist injury that causes scar tissue to restrict movement of the tendons.

Risk factors include:

  • Gender: More common in women.
  • Age: Common in individuals aged between 30 to 50 years old.
  • Chronic overuse: Work or activities that involve frequent, repetitive hand and wrist motions day after day.
  • Pregnancy: Fluid retention due to hormonal changes during pregnancy may contribute to De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a common condition among mothers due to daily activities such as cradling an infant while nursing, lifting a child into a highchair or car seat, or carrying heavy bags of groceries.

How is De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. To diagnose de Quervain's tenosynovitis, your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination on your wrist, thumb, and hand.

How is De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Treated?

There are a few treatments can be used to treat de Quervain's Tenosynovitis:

Non-Surgical Treatment

  • Wear a splint to rest and immobilise the thumb and wrist.
  • Avoid repetitive movements of the thumb.


Medications such as painkillers or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve radial wrist pain and swelling over the thumb side.

Steroid Injection

If you are not responding well to the treatments above, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.

Surgical Procedure

If the symptoms persist without improvement, day surgery performed by an orthopaedic surgeon may be offered. Surgery is almost always successful, and you will regain normal use of your hand upon recovery.

Book an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Early detection of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis makes it easier to treat the condition with effective and appropriate treatment. A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and way to prevent De Quervain's Tenosynovitis.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding De Quervain’s disease or De Quervain's syndrome. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

Thank you for your patience
Click to know more!