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Arthritis Health Center

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De Quervain's Tenosynovitis - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

The goal of treatment for de Quervain's is to relieve the pain and swelling in your thumb and wrist, and restore normal function. Try the following steps to help your symptoms:

  • Avoid moving the hand and wrist that hurt.
  • Until your symptoms are better, stop the activities that caused the pain.
  • Keep your wrist in a straight line with your arm by using a splint to keep your thumb and wrist from moving.
  • Try ice or heat on the area that hurts or is swollen. You can use ice for 15 minutes every 4 to 6 hours. 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.
  • Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (such as Advil) or naproxen (such as Aleve). NSAIDs come in pills and in a cream that you rub over the sore area. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can also help with pain.

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.

But if your wrist or thumb still hurts, your doctor might give you a corticosteroid shot, also called a steroid shot. A medicine called steroid is injected into your wrist area and the bottom of your thumb.

Within 3 weeks of having a steroid shot, most people can use the wrist and thumb again for normal activities. Few good studies have been done, but in one small study everyone who had a corticosteroid injection had no symptoms 6 days later. People who were using a splint still had some symptoms after 6 days.1 Most people feel better after just one shot, but you might need another shot after 4 to 6 weeks if your wrist and thumb still hurt. No more than 3 shots are used.

If your wrist and thumb do not feel better after trying home treatment and getting 3 shots, your doctor might talk to you about surgery. After surgery it might take several months for your wrist to feel completely better. You may need to see a physical or occupational therapist to help you learn how to use your wrist differently. Then you can go back to your normal activities. Talk to your doctor about the side effects you may have from steroid shots or surgery for de Quervain's.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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