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Physical therapy for de Quervain's

What is de Quervain's?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (also known as de Quervain’s disease or de Quervain’s syndrome) is a condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. Tendons are rope-like structures that connect the muscle and bone; they run through “tunnels” made up of soft tissue

In patients with de Quervain’s, the tendons no longer fit comfortably in the tunnel because the soft tissue in the tunnel has either increased or thickened. When this occurs, simple hand and thumb motions can cause pain, especially during grasping or twisting motions.

It’s unknown what causes de Quervain’s, though it’s believed that repetitive motions, hormonal changes, and swelling can all play a role. It appears in people of all ages and genders, however, it is more common in women and in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

Source: ASSH

De Quervain's symptoms

The symptoms of de Quervain’s syndrome can develop either suddenly or gradually, depending on the patient. In either case, while the pain tends to begin in the thumb, it can eventually travel up into the wrist and forearm. Patients often find that the condition makes it difficult to perform pinching, grasping, or twisting motions with the hand.

The most common symptom that patients with de Quervain’s syndrome experience is pain along the back of the thumb, directly above the two affected tendons. Swelling and pain at the base of the thumb or in the wrist has also been known to occur.

The most common symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Pain along the thumb
  • Difficulty performing pinching, twisting, or grasping motions
  • Pain that travels up the wrist or forearm

Source: WebMD

What causes de Quervain's?

De Quervain’s is most commonly attributed to overuse of the wrist, though it’s not known exactly what causes the condition to occur. It has also been tied to direct injury of the wrist or tendons, as well as inflammatory arthritis. There are also a number of risk factors that can make a patient more likely to develop de Quervain’s.

Age is a major risk factor; people between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to develop the condition. It’s also somewhat more common in women, and it appears also to be linked to pregnancy and motherhood. New mothers have been known to develop the condition, but it’s not clear whether pregnancy itself or childcare activities such as lifting a baby repeatedly is the primary source of the condition.

The most common causes of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Repetitive thumb and wrist motions
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Wrist injury
  • Age
  • Sex

Source: Mayo Clinic

Physical therapy for de Quervain's

Though severe cases of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis may require surgery or a cortisone shot, many patients have great success with physical therapy. When working with patients with de Quervain’s, a physical therapist will first evaluate how the patient uses their wrist and hands for functional activities, noting any motions that may be causing or exacerbating the problem and working with the patient to develop alternative motions.

A therapist may also provide a wrist splint, which should allow the wrist to rest while also providing compression to ease swelling and pain. Once pain and inflammation has been reduced, a physical therapist can help the patient to develop an exercise routine that will improve range of motion and prevent stiffness without further aggravating the affected area.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat de Quervain's

Luna has physical therapists across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County that specialize in treating patients with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis and other forms of wrist tendonitis. Our PTs will work with you to identify and adjust the movements that are causing and aggravating your symptoms, helping you to reduce pain and increase mobility.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy for de Quervain’s right in the comfort of their own homes. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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