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Treating De Quervain 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.

Nonsurgical Treatment

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

Side view of hand showing tendon sheath cut over tendons in base of thumb to repair DeQuervain's tenosynovitis.


If other kinds of treatment don’t relieve your pain, or if the pain is severe, your healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider will discuss the risks and possible complications of surgery with you.


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