Do you suffer from thumb pain? Could it be De Quervain’s syndrome?

Hand & Thumb I Berwick Family Osteopathy

De Quervain’s syndrome 

Hand & Thumb I Berwick Family Osteopathy

Photo credit: Ave Calvar on Unsplash

What is it? 

De Quervain’s Syndrome or Tenosynovitis is a condition where there is inflammation in the tendons located at the base of the thumb. The pain gets worse with thumb movement, grasping action of the hand, and lateral wrist movement. It is also common for there to be thickening of the tendons and swelling around the base of the thumb. 

Why do I have it?

This condition is usually an overuse or repetitive strain injury and can be aggravated with activities such as golfing, playing the piano, cooking, cleaning, carpentry, and desk work. However, a classic presentation of the condition is mothers who are repeatedly lifting a newborn with open hands and lots of side to side wrist movement and the pain is present in both wrists. 

If left untreated, the inflammation and progressive thickening can lead to scarring that further limits thumb motion.

What does it feel like?

Patients often describe the pain as constant aching, burning, and can be a pulling sensation. Pain is often aggravated by repetitive lifting, gripping, or twisting motions of the hand. Other possible symptoms can include weakness and numbness in the hand.

How do I get rid of it?

Some cases of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can be self limiting and resolve with some rest, however it can often be hard to carry out normal daily activities without some form of treatment. The treatment techniques your Osteopath give you are:


  • Education about the condition and how to modify some activities to help rest the wrist which can include;
    • Immobilization strategies for your thumb and wrist with tape or a brace to help rest your tendons. 
    • Avoiding repetitive or aggravating movements
    • Applying ice to the affected area
  • Massage to the hand and forearms 
  • Stretching
  • Joint mobilization 
  • Kinesiology taping 
  • Exercise program to strengthen the forearm and wrist


    Photo credit: Conscious Design on Unsplash

If you are having wrist or thumb pain and you are wondering if an Osteopath can help you, give us a call at Berwick Family Osteopathy and Spinal Clinic on (03) 9702 0094, or make an appointment online.

We can’t wait to see you in the clinic and help you with your health. 

Blog written by Dr Amelia Sloan – Registered Osteopath.
Berwick Family Osteopathy & Spinal Clinic

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