• By Deb Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: Is your thumb pain de Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

August 27, 2019

De Quervain's tenosynovitis (pronounced da-KWUHR-vanes teena-sine-ah-VITE-us) is a complicated name for a condition that's been referred to as "mother's thumb," "mommy wrist" and "gamer's thumb" — all associated with repetitive use of the hands and wrist. It is a condition that causes extreme pain in the wrist and thumb area. While the exact cause is not known, Dr. Sanjeev Kakar, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon, says that there are specific treatment options that can help.

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When a simple hand movement, such as making a fist or moving the thumb, becomes painful, it could be from daily overuse. 

"One of the most common is something called de Quervain's tenosynovitis," says Dr. Kakar.

He says it's primarily a tendon problem. 

"If you think of the wrist, basically what we have here is that we have the tendons, which move your thumb. And they are covered by this band, and this is natural. We all have this, but in certain patients, they can have inflammation in this area," says Dr. Kakar.

When the tendons underneath this band become inflamed, they can cause intense pain.

"Now, luckily, the treatment for this is relatively straightforward."

Hand therapy and wearing a splint may help. 

"Sometimes we need to do a corticosteroid injection to decrease inflammation, and most of the times, it gets better. But sometimes we need to do surgery," says Dr. Kakar.

It's an outpatient procedure that involves opening the sheath surrounding the tendon to release pressure, and allow the tendons to glide more freely and pain-free. 

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