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
- Avoid moving the hand and wrist that hurt.
- Until your symptoms are
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.
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
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.