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De Quervain’s syndrome goes by many clinical names, including de Quervain’s tendinitis, de Quervain’s disease, and de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. In nonclinical terms, it’s also called mommy wrist, new mom’s syndrome, gamer’s thumb, and designer’s thumb.

De Quervain’s syndrome develops when the tendon that runs down your forearm and through your wrist to your thumb becomes inflamed. It’s one of the most common types of tendon inflammation. 

Orthopedic surgeon Douglas J. Abeles, MD, and our expert team have extensive experience diagnosing and treating de Quervain’s syndrome on all different types of people who develop it.

Causes and symptoms of de Quervain’s syndrome

As with many inflammation issues, de Quervain’s syndrome is often the result of overuse and repetitive use.

For example, de Quervain’s may develop when you perform activities that require a sideways motion of the wrist as you grip with your thumb. Such activities include gaming or using a computer mouse.

For new moms, the act of lifting and carrying a baby or carrying a heavy car seat with your wrist at an awkward angle can aggravate the tendon, resulting in de Quervain’s syndrome. Other causes include arthritis or a blow or injury to the wrist.

Pain and tenderness around the wrist are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling near the base of your thumb
  • A popping sound or sensation when you move your thumb
  • Difficulty moving your thumb
  • Pain in your wrist
  • Numbness along the back of your thumb

Rest is a key to recovery, but unfortunately, it’s difficult to not use your wrists. Fortunately, there are several treatment options to help you reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Treatments for de Quervain’s syndrome

Since many of the cases of de Quervain’s syndrome result from overuse or repetitive use, the first step is to modify your activity and protect your wrist.

In addition to rest and activity modification, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen should help. Other treatment options include:

  • Ice
  • Wearing a splint
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical or occupational therapy

If the noninvasive methods don’t help within a couple of months, surgery may be the next step. You need to do physical therapy following surgery to build back your strength.

If you think you have de Quervain’s syndrome or you’re experiencing pain in your wrist or thumb, call us at the private practice of Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, to make an appointment.

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