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Treating De Quervain's Syndrome

Treatment for De Quervain's Syndrome


If you have been diagnosed with De Quervain's syndrome then a comprehensive treatment regiment is in order. Left untreated, De Quervain's syndrome can become degenerative and lead to permanent injury and a reduction in your range of motion with your afflicted thumb and wrist as well as a loss of grip strength.

If your De Quervain's syndrome has developed slowly or gradually than it often takes longer to treat and recover from than if it was caused from an injury or had a rapid onset.

General Health

Your general health should always be considered when recovering or treating any condition. When the condition is based on inflammation, such as De Quervain's syndrome, then a number of general health concerns may be contributing to it and they should be addressed in order for you to make a full recovery. At the very least having good circulation and providing all the nutrients your body needs to repair itself will help you lead.

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important for reducing inflammation, healing and proper body chemistry. A lot of people are chronically under hydrated without even knowing it. One rule of thumb to stay hydrated is to take your weight in pounds, slide the decimal to the left so you lose the ones column, and drink that many ounces of water. So if you weigh 250 pounds you should drink at least 25 ounces of water a day.

Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight places an undo amount of stress on your joints, which does not help when you are suffering from a repetitive stress injury such as De Quervain's syndrome.

Being overweight also puts compressive pressure on your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure which can affect your circulation. Good circulation is essential for healing. Your blood brings all the rebuilding materials to the afflicted areas and removes all the waste. If it is not flowing well healing slows down and the waste build up could negate it all together. Overweight people have also been found to have a higher level of overall body inflammation which may be aggravating the localized inflammation in De Quervain's syndrome.


Treatment for De Quervain's syndrome usually involves wearing a splint to immobilize the wrist and thumb being afflicted. If a splint is used it is usually worn 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 weeks. Immobilization will force you to not do all those things that are most likely causing your De Quervain's syndrome for enough time that you can properly heal. When the splint comes off you are free to take up bad habits again so make sure to follow a program to prevent De Quervain's syndrome from coming back.

If your De Quervain's syndrome is not that severe or a splint is impractical then stabilizing the area with a brace or compression wrap may be in order. This provides more support to the area reducing some of the stress and range of motion you would normally receive. But it does not impede you from all repetitive stress or further injuring yourself.


Using ice to relieve your pain and reduce your inflammation is a common and very practical treatment option in combination with other measures. Ice will reduce your swelling in the inflamed areas while reducing the irritation. Use an ice pack regularly to reduce your inflammation following a 15 minute on - 15 minute off pattern. A cool pack, one that isn't as cold as frozen ice, can be kept on longer. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation on these items.


Inflammation can be reduced with the use of anti-inflammatory medication. Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen have proven affective. Your doctor may prescribe the use of such over the counter medication or they may prescribe something stronger.

A steroid or cortisone injection may also be an option based on the severity of the injury and your response to other medication. Steroids and cortisone can reduce swelling and speed up healing. A series of injections may be needed. In some case an injection regiment may take up to two years before full resolution of De Quervain's syndrome.


Surgery for your De Quervain's syndrome may be recommended if you are not responding well to other treatment options. Surgery is a last resort option for De Quervain's syndrome since there is no going back once you cut things.

In the surgery for De Quervain's syndrome the synovial sheaths covering the tendons contoling the radial abduction of your thumbs are usually cut, or surgically relieved, to allow more room for the tendon to move and thereby restoring the tendon's ability to slide smoothly back and forth through the opening in the wrist. This is particularly affective after chronic irritation has lead to a thickening of the synovial tubes.

The surgery for De Quervain's syndrome is typically an outpatient procedure. The surgeon will cut longitudinally along the synovial sheath in question, being careful not to cut the nerve bundle along the back of your thumb. The sheath is widened by slitting the roof allowing it to expand slightly. As sheath split heals the tunnel stays wider


Therapy, especially after surgery, is an important step in your treatment for De Quervain's syndrome. A physical therapy program will involve exercises to strengthen your thumb and wrist. It may also involve teaching you proper body mechanics to reduce the chances of you reinjuring yourself. A program such as the Alexander Technique may be appropriate.

Physical therapy may be able to resolve range of motion and grip strength issues as well, depending on the severity of your De Quervain's syndrome.

Changing Behaviors

No course of treatment can be affective if the behaviors that caused the injury are not corrected or avoided once the treatment is over. Having developed De Quervain's syndrome already you are at a higher risk for developing De Quervain's syndrome again. Find the cause. Fight the cause. That's how you prevent repetitive stress injuries. Furthermore you should take specific actions to prevent De Quervain's syndrome from relapsing.

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