De Quervain’s Syndrome – A common cause of thumb and wrist pain

A common injury affecting the thumb side of the wrist is De Quervain’s Syndrome, also sometimes referred to as ‘Gamer’s Thumb’, ‘Mummy Thumb’ and ‘De Quervain’s Tendinosis’.

What is De Quervain’s?

De Quervains picDe Quervain’s Syndrome is a condition affecting the tendons of the thumb that run along the wrist. These tendons assist in moving the thumb and wrist. More often, De Quervain’s Syndrome is an overuse injury due to increased forces through the tendon. This can lead to eventual thickening of the tendon and irritation that can cause pain around the thumb side of the wrist, specifically the radial styloid (see pic).

How does this occur?

De Quervain’s Syndrome can occur following repetitive loading of the thumb tendons. It is associated with pregnancy and motherhood, and is most common in middle-aged women. However it can also present following repetitive work of the wrist, involving grasping, pinching, squeezing or wringing. Some common scenarios include:

  • A new mother cradling her young baby (or a new grandmother doing the same!).
  • A gamer playing video games using a two hand controller and predominantly using thumb.
  • Tradesman regularly using tools such as a screwdriver.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain around the radial styloid of the wrist
  • Swelling over the thumb side of the wrist
  • Occasionally a snapping or catching sensation when moving the thumb
  • Difficulty grasping and holding onto objects with the thumb

How can Physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapy can assist in identifying factors which may have contributed to De Quervain’s Syndrome. This may involve ergonomic changes or modifying tasks to reduce strain through the thumb tendons. Manual therapy, nerve glides and a splint is often prescribed to allow irritation around the wrist to settle. Physiotherapy can also aid in ruling out any other causes of wrist pain.

Come to our Sydney CBD Physio and Pilates clinic today and get your wrist pain assessed!

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