DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis = pain in thumb
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis) is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.
I didn’t know there was a name for the pain that radiates through my thumb joint. It turns out that DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is the most common type of tenosynovitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath called the synovium that surrounds a tendon).
A tendon is thick bendable tissue that connects muscle to bone. Two tendons run from the back of your thumb down the side of your wrist. De Quervain’s tendinitis is caused when these tendons are swollen and irritated.
Although the exact cause of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis isn’t known, any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement — such as working in the garden, playing golf or racket sports or lifting your baby (Mother’s Wrist) — can make it worse. I notice it more when I am working on my laptop, lying in bed, and “click” the mouse while my thumb is positioned underneath the front of the computer, or driving the car, with my hands around the steering wheel, not realizing I need to loosen my grip. Overuse, a direct blow to the thumb, repetitive grasping, and certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can all trigger the disease and it affects women eight to 10 times more often than men.
Diagnosing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
To diagnose De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, your doctor will examine your hand to see if you feel pain when pressure is applied on the thumb side of the wrist.
A simple test called the Finkelstein test will tell you if are suffering from thumb tendonitis:
**What you need to do first is to make a fist by having the fingers over the thumb.
**What you want to do next is bend the wrist in the direction of the little finger.
If you are suffering from thumb tendinitis, you are going to find this very painful. You are also going to find tenderness to the touch directly over the thumb side of the wrist.
Fibromyalgia and Tendonitis
In a 2003 study regarding the role of tendonitis in Fibromyalgia Syndrome, it was concluded —“considering the central hyperexcitability present in the patients and the similar properties of tendinitis and fibromyalgia, follow up and therapy for the disease must be scheduled according to these factors which are not only probable symptoms of FS, but also leading causes for the occurrence and continuity of the pain in this disease.” (Source: Yonsei Med J. 2003 Aug;44(4):619-22).
The Pain of Texting
New research has shown that texting can cause minor to severe injuries and that smartphone users should be aware of the symptoms and how to prevent and treat the pain. Other names for the affliction are Blackberry thumb, Nintendo thumb, iPod thumb, text messaging thumb, repetitive thumb syndrome.
The keyboard of smartphones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are so small that most people exclusively text with their thumbs. Unfortunately the thumb, known to be the least nimble part of the hand, is forced into an unnatural position and involved in repetitive movements, and is strained causing soreness and injuries.
The recovery process from “BlackBerry thumb” can be lengthy, and may involve curtailing or altogether eliminating such use of a mobile device. In some extreme cases, surgery may be necessary.
What to do?
Treatment typically consists of resting or splinting the thumb. Medical doctors may suggest anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone injections, and as a last resort surgery.
Doctors of chiropractic are educated to use a variety of non-drug, non-surgical approaches. Giving the thumbs a chance to start the healing process may include a program of rest, thumb strapping, gentle stretches, or targeted massage.
Some nutritional supplements may help reduce the inflammation and pain. I can assist in choosing a supplement for you.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid typing for more than three minutes without a break.
- Insert the device into a holder and set it on a desk or a briefcase.
- Turn the device off on weekends or at least on Sundays – I know, for me, this is difficult as my cell phone is the main phone in our house, and my family text back and forth throughout the day.
- Decide that you will check emails and text messages just four times a day.
- Reduce the number of keystrokes and keep messages short and simple.
- Consider using the autotext feature.
- If a message must be longer, use your computer keyboard, not your PDA.
- Practice using other fingers for typing, especially when thumbs hurt.
- If thumbs are in pain, use a thumb or wrist support.
- Pay attention to your grip. Keep wrists upright and straight.
- Don’t slouch while texting. Slouchers often develop neck pain in addition to thumb pain.
Adapted from the American Chiropractic Association, www.acatoday.org
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(1) Photo credit: De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
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