Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

De Quervain Tenosynovitis

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


De Quervain Tenosynovitis

(De Quervain Syndrome; De Quervain Disease; Washerwoman’s Sprain)


De Quervain tenosynovitis is a painful irritation of tendons that pass through a tunnel-like tissue at the wrist. It can put more pressure on the tendons and make them hard to move.

De Quervain Tenosynovitis.

si55550704_96472_1http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=77037703si55550704.jpgsi55550704.jpgNULLjpgsi55550704.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55550704.jpgNULL75NULL2008-12-10260400Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The exact cause of de Quervain tenosynovitis not known. It may be due to injury, such as repetitive motion or a direct blow to the area.

Risk Factors

De Quervain tenosynovitis is more common in women who are over 40 years of age. It is also more common during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Sports, such as cross-country skiing
  • Repeatedly lifting a baby, young child, or pet
  • Certain jobs, such as those that involve using a hammer or similar tool


Problems may be:

  • Pain at the base of the thumb and sometimes along the forearm
  • Pain when using the hand and thumb, such as when grabbing or twisting items
  • Swelling or a fluid-filled cyst over the thumb side of the wrist
  • A snapping or catching feeling when moving the thumb


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your hand and arm. This is all that is needed for diagnosis.


The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote movement. This may be done with:

  • Limiting activities
  • A splint to help rest the area
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy to improve function


There are no current guidelines to lower the risk of de Quervain tenosynovitis.





  • de Quervain syndrome. Merck Manual— Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/hand_disorders/de_quervain_syndrome.html.
  • de Quervian tendinitis (de Quervian tendinosis). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/de-quervains-tendinosis.
  • de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/de-quervain-tenosynovitis-17.


  • Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.