AOPT Health Blog
What is DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Have you noticed increased pain on the thumb side of your wrist? You may be dealing with DeQuearvains Tenosynovitis. It's a mouthful to say, but it's a common culprit of radial (thumb sided) wrist pain. In this post, we will discuss what this condition is, who is most at risk, and strategies that can be used to manage it.

What is DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis?

Also coined with the names “Mother’s Wrist” and “Washer-Woman’s Sprain,” DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis is caused by painful swelling of specific tendons that extend the thumb. These muscles run through a tight compartment and when inflamed cause pain over the radial, or thumb side, of the wrist and base of the thumb.

Causes and Risk Factors

This condition can make daily activities challenging and painful to complete. Understanding who is at risk and activities that may exacerbate these muscles is important.
Common activities that may exacerbate this condition include:

  • Racket sports
  • Heavy lifting (including repetitive lifting of a child/baby postpartum)
  • Skiing
  • Wringing out towels or clothes to dry
  • Tool use, including hammering, sawing, or gardening

Risk Factors:

  • Women are 8-10x more likely than men to develop this condition
  • New mothers are especially vulnerable to this condition as they are constantly lifting their little ones


There are several treatment options for this condition, including occupational therapy, steroid injections, and possibly surgery. An occupational therapist can help patients manage this condition by working with patients on the following strategies:

  • Fabricating a custom-fitted brace to rest the thumb/wrist and help reduce swelling
  • Deep tissue massage of the thumb/wrist
  • Therapeutic exercises to stretch and strengthen the area
  • An ergonomic assessment and training to prevent further damage, along with recommendations for optimal ways for you to continue your activities of daily living.

Here at Advanced Orthopedic Physical therapy, we want to help if you are experiencing any type of pain, which is why we are offering free screens with our therapists! Begin your journey to recovery with us today!


Sampson, S, Wixch, E. et al (1994) Complications of conservative and surgical treatment of DeQuervain’s disease and trigger digits. Hand Clin. 10:73
Muckart R (1964) Stenosing tendovaginitis of abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis at the radial styloid (DeQuervain’s disease). Clin Orthop. 33

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