Need a Hand with Thumb Pain??

Do you have pain, tenderness and swelling at the base of your thumb and wrist that may radiate up your forearm?

Do you have pain when you turn your wrist, grasp or make a fist which can lead to difficulties picking up or holding objects?

Do you have difficulties picking up objects where thumb pressure is required? e.g. picking up a plate of food, gardening, knitting and cooking.

If so, you may have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis…


What is it?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a painful problem that results from irritation of two tendons. These tendons move the thumb side wards away from the palm and help move the wrist. The pain is usually felt on the thumb side of the wrist but may travel up the forearm or into the thumb. There may also be swelling, creaking sensations and some altered sensation on part of the back of the thumb and hand. The pain may restrict some movements and grip strength.

What causes it?

The problem is due to irritation of two tendons were they run through a very tight tunnel near the wrist. Some common causes are:

  • Repetitive or prolonged movements of the wrist and thumb
  • Direct trauma (e.g. being hit on the wrist)
  • An unusually small tunnel for the tendons to move through


What can I do about it?

Rest: This is the most effective treatment, so try to avoid using your hands and wrists when you can.

Splint: This is often recommended to immobilise your thumb/wrist and helps rest your tendons.

Modify your activities: Avoid repetitive movements and sustained positions. For example, carry items using a shoulder bag or over your forearms instead of your hands. Also, avoid over-gripping when using equipment.

Massage: Gentle massage might help ease some of the pain. Use your thumb to gently rub the upper half of your other forearm where the muscles are. You can do this as often as you need.


If you think you may have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis call Osteohealth on 6021 2777 and make an appointment with our hand therapist Marnie. She can give an assessment and custom-designed rehabilitation program to get you back doing the things you love… thumb pain free!


-Marnie Lowry