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  • De Quervain’s involves thickening of the synovial sheath that surrounds the tendons of the wrist and thumb. The tendons become strangled due to compression from the synovial sheath.

  • It is also referred to as ‘Hoffman’s disease’.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain on the radial side of the wrist

  • Thickening

  • Swelling

  • Crepitus

  • Aggravated by the movements of thumb extension and thumb abduction

What Causes It?

  • Overuse (work, gardening, sport)

  • Radial side dominated sports such as rowing, kayaking, and racquet sports

How to Self Manage

  • Implement R.I.C.E. protocol

  • Identify and rest from aggravating activities


  • Cortisone and anaesthetic injection may be useful.

  • If conservative management fails surgery to release the tendons may be required.

How Physio Helps

  • Assess if your condition is de Quervain’s

  • Organise a splint to immobilise the thumb and reduce aggravation of the tendons

  • Use manual treatment including deep transverse frictions with the tendon on stretch to release any adhesions

  • Use electrotherapy

  • Prescribe stretches and strengthening specific to your problem

  • Review possible stressors, and organise ergonomic aids such as a built-up pen grip to offload the tendons

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