DeQuervains is a inflammation of the tendons caused by rubbing as they pass over the bone. This may occur out of the blue, following injury or after unaccustomed or repetitive activity.
There is pain over the side of the wrist as you bend and straighten your thumb or wrist. The pain is often severe and is sometimes mistaken for a broken bone This cause difficulty with picking up objects with the hand. There is usually a tender area with some swelling over the side of the wrist where the tendons are inflamed.
What treatment is available?
Initially anti-inflammatory medication and a splint may help. In more severe of persistent cases, an injection of cortisone can be effective. This is performed in the outpatient clinic and will reduce or cure the symptoms in up to 80% of cases. In those patients who do not respond to injection, surgery can be undertaken.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under local anaesthetic. The tendons are released to prevent friction by dividing the tight thick ligament over the tendons.
Are there any risks?
The risks of cortisone injections are extremely small although a maximum of 2 or 3 is recommended. Some thinning of the skin can occur. The injections are often painful for 1-3 days but should subside.
In those cases requiring surgery, there is a risk of damage to a small nerve which can cause a sensitive scar and some numbness over the back of the thumb. The wound takes 7-10 days to heal but full function may take 4-6 weeks to return. Infection in the wound can occur but is usually simple to treat with antibiotics. Even surgery may not get rid of your symptoms in up to 10% of cases.