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De Quervain's Tenosynovitis: Care Instructions


De Quervain's (say "duh-kair-VAZ") tenosynovitis is a problem that makes the bottom of your thumb and the side of your wrist hurt. When you have de Quervain's, the ropey fibre (tendon) that helps move your thumb away from your fingers becomes swollen.

You may have pain when you move your wrist or pick things up. You may hear a creaking sound when you move your wrist or thumb.

Symptoms often get better in a few weeks with home care. Your doctor may want you to start some gentle stretching exercises once your symptoms are gone. Sometimes treatment with an injection or surgery is needed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Until your symptoms are better, stop the activities that caused the pain.
  • Avoid moving the hand and wrist that hurt.
  • Follow your doctor's directions for wearing a splint to keep your thumb and wrist from moving.
  • Try ice or heat.
    • Put ice or a cold pack on your thumb and wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
    • You can use heat for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. Try using a heating pad, hot shower, or hot pack.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new or worse numbness or tingling in your hand or fingers.
  • Your hand feels weaker.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.