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De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Treatment

Dr. Pamela Mehta, MD
Hand Surgeon in San Jose

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Treatment in San Jose

Dr. Pamela Mehta is an experienced hand & wrist surgeon renowned for her expertise in sports injuries and joint arthritis. She is the founder of Resilience Orthopedics.

With an impressive career and training under leading innovators, she has served as Chief of Orthopedics and National Orthopedic Director for a major orthopedic hospitalist group and advises several publicly traded companies.

Pamela Mehta

Table of Contents

What is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a common wrist condition caused by irritated tendons in your wrist.

It often occurs without a clear cause, though factors such as age and sex can put you at a higher risk of developing it. It can be treated with simple measures such as a splint but sometimes requires hand surgery.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis causes pain in your wrist.

This condition is also sometimes known as de Quervain’s tendonitis. It affects two tendons that pass through a tendon sheath in your wrist at the base of your thumb. 

These tendons are surrounded by a slippery layer called the synovium, to protect them from friction. When this becomes swollen and inflamed, it causes pain at the side of your wrist. 

You can also suffer difficulty with wrist movements.


The cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is often unclear. It is sometimes associated with overuse and repetitive wrist movements. Examples of this include gardening, gaming, or playing tennis.

You are at higher risk of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis if you are:

  • Aged 30-50, though those in other age groups can still develop de Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Female – women are up to 10 times more likely to develop it
  • Recovering from, or previously had, a wrist injury
  • Pregnant, or have just given birth
  • Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis
man in garden gripping his wrist in pain


If you have pain or swelling in your wrist and thumb, you might have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Pain can come on suddenly or gradually over time. It is felt at the base of your thumb and outside of your wrist – where the inflamed tendons are found.

black and white photo of wrist with redness around pain

Symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:

  • Pain at the base of your thumb and outer wrist
  • Radiating pain that goes up your forearm or into your thumb
  • Swelling near the base of your thumb
  • Numbness in your thumb and index finger
  • Squeaking sounds or a catching sensation when moving your thumb

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Dr. Mehta is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who can help you recover from your joint condition.

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Treatment for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis usually conservative (simple) treatments. The aim of treatment is to reduce inflammation and irritation of your tendon sheath.

Simple measures to help with the pain and swelling include:

  • Resting your thumb
  • Avoiding painful movements
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Placing an ice pack on your wrist
  • Gently massaging your wrist
However, if the pain isn’t improving or the symptoms are serious, other options may be necessary. Let’s go over the other treatment options available for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis:
man using computer with a wrist rest

Splints, Braces, and Physical Therapy

Resting your thumb and wrist might be difficult, especially if your dominant hand is affected. A splint or brace designed for tenosynovitis makes it easy to keep your wrist and thumb still. 
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis splint brace

Splints can often be bought from a pharmacy, though it’s important that you get a splint that fits well.

Sometimes special exercises can help you recover from de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. It is important that this is supervised by a physical therapist to avoid making things worse.

Dr. Mehta can advise you on whether stretching or exercises will help or harm your symptoms.

Cortisone Injection

Normally, symptoms improve after 4-6 weeks with treatment. If your symptoms are more severe, or aren’t improving with a brace or splint, Dr. Mehta might recommend a cortisone injection

Cortisone, a type of steroid, is injected into the tendon sheath which is irritated, reducing inflammation and swelling. This relieves the pain in over half of cases.


If your symptoms continue, you may require hand surgery. This is known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis release or decompression. The procedure opens the tendon sheath in your wrist to make room for the irritated tendons. This can generally be done under a local anesthetic.

Recovery from surgery is usually quick, with pain from your irritated tendons subsiding within the first few days. Physical therapy is often used to help in your recovery from surgery.

You will have a small scar on your wrist which might remain sore for a few weeks after the operation.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis surgery


Mary Anne T
San Francisco, CA
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“Dr. Mehta is a wonderful Orthopedic Surgeon. I had severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both hands and wrists. The pain was so terrible and the numbness that I bought 3 different types of wrists splints to help reduce discomfort that I was experiencing especially at night--the pain and numbness was keeping me up at night. I finally decided to go to see Dr Mehta, an Orthopedic Surgeon, whom a personal friend suggested that I see, and I took her up on it and I am glad that I did. Thank You Dr. Mehta for all the care you showed me. I would recommend you to all of my friends and to anyone who needed an Orthopedic Surgeon. You take time out to explain things to your patients and you show your patients a lot of compassion. Thank You for all the care you showed me--Thank you again!”
Wayne Sondreal
Google Review
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“I went to see Dr. Pamela Mehta for arthritis hand pain in both my thumbs. She gave me the options of PRP or cortisone injections. I decided to have the cortisone injections, my insurance would cover the costs. Of course there was some minor pain from the injections, but the next day my pain was almost completely gone! I could not hold a heavy book before the treatment but now I can! I highly recommend Dr. Mehta, awesome people skills and very competent.”

What Hand & Wrist Services Do We Offer?

Hand & Wrist Pain Assessment

We use our hands every day of our lives for some of the most important of life's activities. Hand and wrist pain can be debilitating, meaning you struggle to drive, write, and play sports.

Hand & Wrist Surgery

If your hand condition is severe, or nothing you have tried has helped, Dr. Mehta can advise you on the options for surgery. She is a hand surgeon and can offer expert opinion and care.

Treatment of Hand & Wrist Conditions


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes pain and numbness in your hand, and sometimes requires surgery.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis causes swelling and pain at the base of your thumb.

Wrist Bursitis

Wrist bursitis can cause pain and stiffness if your wrist. Treatment is often non-surgical.

& Many More

Dr. Mehta is experienced in hand and wrist surgery and non-surgical treatments.

Dr. Mehta offers diagnosis and treatment of all hand & wrist conditions and can offer her specialist opinion as an expert hand doctor.