De Quervain’s tendinitis is a condition that involves pain and tenderness on the inner side of your wrist at the base of your thumb and forearm. Simple movements like extending your thumb or gripping an item can cause a painful flareup, and that can make daily activities uncomfortable. Thankfully, this form of tendonitis tends to respond well to active and concentrated treatment, which is why physical therapy is often the prescribed course of action. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how we can help patients treat De Quervain’s tendinitis.
What Is De Quervain’s Tendinitis?
De Quervain’s tendinitis occurs when tendons in the wrist become irritated, inflamed or thickened. The tough tendons of the thumb and wrist are encased in a protective sheath that helps hold the tendons in place. If these tendons become inflamed or thick, they have a tough time passing through this shealth unimpeded, and that can cause symptoms like pain, tenderness and loss of range of motion.
Causes and risk factors for developing the De Quervain’s tendonitis include:
- Chronic hand and wrist use
- Repetitive motions/overuse
- Excessive texting or gaming
- Being female (women nearly 10x more likely to develop the condition)
- Participating in sports that stress the wrists, like tennis and golf
- Being over the age of 40
Treating De Quervain’s With Physical Therapy
It is very important to treat De Quervain’s tendinitis early to help stave off progression of the condition. Considering how often we use our wrist and thumbs to text, type and open lids, every day can become painful if you try to ignore symptoms and don’t treat them head on. As we mentioned above, physical therapy is often the best form of treatment.
Your physical therapist will begin with an individualized assessment based on a conversation about your symptoms, a physical examination and some movement tests. They’ll also ask about your daily activities and the tasks you perform at work to get an idea of what could be contributing to your condition and how they’ll need to account for future stress on the wrist. Treatment will often involve two courses – targeted action and movement avoidance.
- Targeted Action – Targeted action involves strength training and range of motion exercises designed to take pressure and stress off the tendons. If they have to handle less stress, they aren’t as likely to become irritated. However, these exercises need to be performed in a careful way, because if they end up adding stress to the wrist, they could serve to make the condition worse. Your physical therapist will have a number of exercises in their arsenal that you’ll learn to help protect and strengthen the wrist and thumb area.
- Movement Avoidance – On the flip side, your therapist will also talk to you about what actions you’ll want to avoid while you’re in recovery. Posture positioning and repetitive maneuvers will be discussed so that you can protect the area throughout the course of your day. It’s not just about doing the right exercises, you also need to work to avoid potentially stressful actions. We can help showcase the difference between the two
Over the course of a few sessions, you’ll notice improvements and a decrease in symptoms. Armed with the knowledge of how to protect and strengthen the area, many clients have all the tools they need to keep the condition at bay once symptoms are under control. We’ll help you if the condition returns, but for many, physical therapy helps provide a long-lasting solution to their De Quervain’s tendinitis.
To learn more about the condition or treatment, or to talk to a physical therapist about the discomfort you’re experiencing in your wrist, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.