Tenosynovitis also known as De Quervan’s tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons at the base of your thumb. Tenosyno…what, you may say. What a mouthful. To explain this, lets take apart this word. ‘Teno’ is short for tendons. Tendons are ropes, which tie muscles to bones. In this case these tendons are at the base of the thumb and make moving around your thumb possible. The ‘syno’ part is short for synovial sheath.
A sheath is a sleeve or pocket, which lubricates all of these tendons, and keeps everything moving freely. Finally the ‘itis’ part means there is an inflammation here. When things are inflamed they are larger than they are suppose to be. This creates a problem by limiting the room the tendons have to move around in and friction develops.
So how can someone know they have this? The symptoms are pretty basic. Pain felt at the base of the thumb is the M.O. here. Twisting the wrist is painful; using a screwdriver is just out of the question. To be sure a good test for De Quervan’s is Finkelstein’s test. Never mind the name, but there are two parts to this. First you make a fist with your thumb on the inside. (Think of a ‘girl’ fist here). Second you move your wrist down towards the pinky side of your hand in the same motion you’d use to cast a fishing lure. If this movement is pretty painful then we have a bingo here.
So how would one get this anyways? De Quervan’s can be from pregnancy or can develop in someone with rheumatoid, but most commonly this is an overuse injury of the wrist. Typing, twisting, like with a screwdriver, or trimming your hedges can do this. Gardening can be particularly hard on the wrist and thumb.
If all this sounds familiar you may want to know what can be done to help. In a simple procedure the thumb is simply removed, with your good thumb left in tact. Just kidding. Treatment is actually a no-brainer here. First since this is an overuse issue cutting out what caused this is the first step. Sometimes people need to get a splint to get them to stop using their thumb and wrist. Since this is an inflammation putting ice on the swollen spot can speed healing. A good anti-inflammatory can help. (Remember there are a lot of natural anti-inflammatory aids out there).
If this overuse injury came about because you’ve knocked your thumb out of place, a good gentle adjustment can put it back into proper alignment. If this is from pregnancy you can do things to relieve the symptoms but rest assured you won’t be pregnant forever and after the baby comes the swelling will go down.
After all of this has calmed down and your painful swollen thumb has returned to it’s former self you can put it back to work, but this time a little kinder to yourself.