Ask Trevor CHT: Tedonitis in the thumb

Ask Trevor CHT DeQuervain's Syndrome Hand Pain Tendinitis Thumb pain

outstretched hand and thumb against a blue background

Lisa asks:

"After a few months, I finally went and got my left hand/wrist checked out and was diagnosed with tendonitis in my thumb. I feel like I just keep icing it day and night and splinting it constantly but it’s not getting any better and the pain is sharp and endless. Any suggestions?"

Certified Hand Therapist Trevor's answer:

"You're most likely dealing with a fairly common but extremely frustrating tendinitis known as DeQuervain's or radial styloid tenosynovitis (although you'd have to see your primary care provider or orthopedist for definitive diagnosis).

The most common mistake people make with a tendinitis like this is they completely avoid any stress to the involved tissue and then when they "just have to get things done" they try to take off the splint because it gets in the way.

Sometimes I'll have people start with gentle "OK" signs and as much wrist AROM as they can do without flaring things up. Your body won't heal correctly if you completely avoid stressing the involved tendon and then overload it during functional tasks that don't let you control how much or how little you're loading the tissue.

Also, make sure you have a splint that actually reduces or even stops symptoms. An ill-fitting splint can sometimes be worse than no splint at all.

Last, ice is nice if you're flared up and sore, but if it's more stiff and achy feeling try a moist heat to improve local circulation and tissue elasticity.

There are all kinds of anatomical variations, individual movement patterns and environmental stressors that could be acting as stumbling blocks, so I would highly recommend working with a good CHT and/or upper extremity physiotherapist (depending on where you live) to  tailor fit a home exercise program that works for you."


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