Do you experience pain in the thumb and wrist?

You could be suffering from De Quervein’s Tenosynovitis.

What was once referred to as Washer Womans Sprain or Mothers Thumb, is now often referred to as Texting Thumb or Nintendinitus.

To find out more about symptoms and treatment read the article below written by our hand specialist Laura.

De Quervein’s tenosynovitis is a commonly encountered condition which causes pain to the thumb side of the wrist. This is often a result of irritation and inflammation of the tendon sheath that contains the tendons that move the thumb upwards (Extensor Pollicis Brevis) and outwards (Abductor Pollicis Longus). This can be caused by repeated activities such as lifting and grasping, specific inflammatory conditions and direct trauma.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis most commonly presents in those aged between 30 – 50 years and affects women more frequently than men, particularly soon after childbirth. Patients often report pain to the bone on the thumb side of the wrist especially when moving the thumb in an outward direction, lifting objects and gripping. At times swelling or a thickening of the tendons can be present at the thumb side of the wrist. Additionally, there may be a noise caused by the tendons moving through the inflamed tendon sheath.


Assessment of this condition by a healthcare professional is important to determine if there are any other causes of the symptoms such as conditions affecting the base of the thumb or the wrist bones. Assessment of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can be completed by a registered physiotherapist who will observe the region for any swelling or thickening of the tendons. Assessment will then include palpating the region for any tenderness, comparing the available range of movement and strength in the thumb and wrist to the non-affected side. Plus other tests to help confirm the diagnosis of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
Treatment for this condition initially aims to reduce the irritation and inflammation. A period of avoiding the activities that irritate the pain should be completed. Wrist and thumb splints can also help to rest the affected tendons, the amount of time that this should be worn will be advised following the assessment. Once the initial irritation and inflammation have improved then physiotherapy will aim to progressively load the tendons with strengthening exercises which will aim to put the tendons under increasing load. These need to be completed as advised by the physiotherapist to ensure that the tendons are not irritated once more.

Often this relative rest and physiotherapy guided exercises are sufficient to improve symptoms. If however symptoms persist following this treatment then you should consult with your GP to discuss other treatment options.

To discuss with our Physiotherapists,  please call 01727 855 414 or email