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If you have seen some swelling and tenderness at the base of your thumb or experienced a painful wrist and thumb symptoms that occur on the thumb side of the wrist, you’ve come to the right place.

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De quervain's tenosynovitis xray
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Thermoplastic Long opponens water proof orthosis immobilising the wrist and thumb. 4 – 8 weeks of splinting followed by core wrist strengthening program.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis or Syndrome refers to the painful wrist and thumb symptoms that occur on the thumb side of the wrist. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis pain is normally due to thickening of the tendons of the Abductor Pollicis Longus (APL) and Extensor Pollicis Brevis (EPB) muscles through the forearm. As the thickened tendons pass through a tunnel (the first dorsal compartment), the constant friction causes thickening and degeneration or scar tissue (as well as inflammation) to occur to the tendon sheath itself – which in turn compresses the nerve and can cause a strong, shooting type wrist pain.

Wrist pain thumb side


The causes of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis are still unknown however it is common in new parents particularly breastfeeding mothers (Mummy thumb, or Mummy Wrist). It is also very common in repetitive manual work tasks and office based workers who use the keyboard a lot. There may be several factors centred around repetitive work or domestic related tasks such as typing, pinching, grasping, pulling or pushing, and lifting young children. In addition to this, differential diagnoses may occur due to de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis sharing similar symptoms of radial sided wrist pain – such as an unstable wrist, particularly at the scapholunate ligament (SLL). There are recent studies that look at underlying wrist instability being a cause of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. SLL instability can be a contributing factor to de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis symptoms and can often be misdiagnosed as de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis itself.

Call us on 1300 762 227 for an appointment, or schedule an appointment online by clicking the button below.


It is very important to have a thorough assessment of your hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder if you or your Doctor suspect that you might have de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. At Action Rehab our Hand therapists, Physiotherapists, and Occupational Therapists will get an understanding of the tasks that cause you pain and where the pain is located.

You may be a new mother and there might be pain on lifting your newborn or breastfeeding or changing their nappy. Alternatively you might be a manual worker and get pain when you perform a certain manual task. As we have discussed de Quervain’s tendonitis is caused by a wrist instability and so once we have established what causes your pain then we will assess the wrist, elbow and shoulder manually.

At Action Rehab we will take a strength test in a number of different arm positions to establish the stability of the wrist and hand. We will perform a Watson’s Test to ascertain if the de Quervain’s Tendonitis or de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis could be coming from an instability in your Scapho-lunate joint. Finally, we will perform a Finklestein’s test to measure how much pain there is around the radial nerve in the wrist.

Patient treatment for de quervains tenosynovitis | action rehab

Our Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists have extensive knowledge and experience in assessing, diagnosing, treating, and managing your hand and upper extremity – your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand – injuries or conditions, so you know you’re in good hands.

The hand therapists at Action Rehab are experienced in the assessment and treatment of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. With a reputation endorsed by sporting organisations like the Melbourne Football Club, Action Rehab is the smart choice for treating your De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

Get on the road to recovery, so you can do the things you love.


Why Is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Common During and Post Pregnancy?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a complex biomechanical condition that impacts several structures in the wrist including the Abductor Pollicis Longus and Extensor Pollicis Brevis tendons as well as the sensory branch of the Radial Nerve. Impact on these structures is described as the “symptoms” of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, but they are not the “cause” of the problem. The cause of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is often multifactorial and there remains much debate in the literature.

Why Does One Mother Get De Quervain’s When Another Mother Doing Exactly The Same Tasks Does Not?

At Action Rehab we believe it is due to the prepregnancy stability of the wrist joint. If a person has a slightly unstable wrist before pregnancy, then their chance of getting de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis during or post pregnancy is much higher. We know that during pregnancy the hormones in the body help to slacken ligaments and breastfeeding continues this process after the birth. As the baby gets bigger and heavier this puts added pressure on the wrist tendons in bathing, nappy changing and feeding in particular. With a lack of stability in the wrist ligaments then the thumb sided tendons need to work harder to lift the baby and so in some cases (not all) a nursing mother will get de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. These symptoms often coincide with the baby’s growth and development.

Pregnant woman with baby

View the video below to learn more about why post-pregnancy, it is common for mothers to experience wrist pain on the thumb side causing de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. As explained by Action Rehab founder Ben Cunningham.

Play Video about Pregnancy and Your Hand


Once a thorough assessment has been made by your Hand Therapist, Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist at Action Rehab then we can start to treat your cause as well as your symptoms.

Remember the de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is the “symptom” and not the cause. Unfortunately it is the symptom that generally causes all the pain. 

At Action Rehab we will most often start your treatment in a removable brace to rest the tendons of the wrist and provide support. A customised water resistant and removable brace will be provided at your first visit and made by your Hand Therapist.

 Depending on your assessment and severity of the symptoms we will decide whether to include your thumb in the splint. We will educate you in joint protection techniques that can protect your tendons and prevent you from further traumatising your de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Following on from wearing your brace for pain relief, we will advise you on a strengthening and stabilisation exercise program for your wrist. This strengthening program is really important even for those patients who may have had a steroid injection to treat the de Quervain’s symptomatic pain in the wrists. 

At Action Rehab we focus on restoring the core stability of the wrist to stop the pain and then to prevent it from reoccurrence and help you recondition your wrist and restore your stability.

Depending on your assessment and severity of the symptoms your Action Rehab Hand Therapist will decide whether to include your thumb in the splint.


Does It Require Surgery?

Rarely does de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis require surgery.  In the rare occasion where surgery may be required, we will be able to advise you on whom the most appropriate surgeon is for you to see.

De quervain's tenosynovitis treatment melbourne | action rehab
See below for lightweight splint with and without thumb support.

To Book Call Us On 1300 762 227

Call us on 1300 762 227 for an appointment, or schedule an appointment online by clicking the button below.


At Action Rehab, our Hand Therapist, Physiotherapists, and Occupational Therapists have extensive experience assessing de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

We will take the time to assess and treat your condition, and we will tailor a specialised splinting and strengthening program to treat your de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. At Action Rehab we treat hundreds of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis patients every year, and a strengthening and stabilisation program can assist with symptoms of de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

To make an appointment, enquire, or find your closest location call us on 1300 762 227 or schedule an appointment online.
Scaphoid fracture consultation | action rehab


It is caused by an instability in the wrist that then causes the thumb sided or radial sided tendons of the wrist to over work. Repetitive tasks or lifting heavy objects can cause de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is very common and in fact it is more common in manual workers doing repetitive jobs than it is in mothers. In breastfeeding mothers it is the number one cause of wrist pain but can be misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel so proper assessment is required.

The ligaments in the wrist can become more lax in pregnancy and while breastfeeding and this loss of support in the wrist can mean that the tendons of the thumb and radial side of the wrist tend to work harder to lift. As the baby grows and the lifting weight increases then the pain can increase too.

Recovery often depends on how long the symptoms have been present before you seek treatment. Basically don’t delay! If de Quervasin’s Tenosynovitis is treated early then it can be controlled quickly and prevented from coming back.

Generally no. Surgery is a last resort but again it is important to be assessed early. 

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a painful condition and so it is serious. Generally it is easy to treat so early treatment and strengthening and stabilisation will help control it.

In some cases where a mother stops breastfeeding then the ligaments can return to their “normal” stability and so the condition can “go away”. However, in most cases the problem becomes quite severe and there can be long term scarring in the sheath so it may remain long after the breastfeeding ceases. Don’t wait for it to “go away’, seek treatment with Action Rehab.

In a retrospective review by Redvers-Chubb (2016), the medical records of 41 patients with de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis were analysed to determine if their de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis had been a result of an underlying traumatic injury in the past, in the absence of a history of repetitive strain. 19 of these patients were found to have had a previous ligament injury or trauma, with 13 of them assessed to have “problematic” scapholunate ligaments. These results were statistically significant. Other ligaments included the 1st CMC joint and several mid-carpal ligaments. The study concludes by suggesting additional diagnostic tests should be administered to rule out ligament injuries such as the Watson’s test.

This research was congruent with a 2002 article by Linscheid and Dobyns who investigated the various ligaments of the wrist and their relationship with flexor and extensor tendons. Linscheid and Dobyns noted that injury to, or instability of the scapholunate ligament (as well as several over proximal and distal row ligaments) can redistribute load in a way that increases pressure on the tendons, leading to thickening of the tendon sheaths and degeneration. In new mothers it is known that there is a natural ligamentous loosening or laxity and this may contribute to the wrist instability that may cause de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis in pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Also, a manual worker with a repetitive job may find that they develop de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis for the same reason, wrist instability. Assessment by one of the Hand Therapists at Action Rehab will help you to understand the underlying cause of your de Quervain’s pain so that we can treat it appropriately.


O’Neill, C. J. (2008). “de Quervain Tenosynovitis”. In Frontera, Walter R; Siver, Julie K; Rizzo, Thomas D. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 129–132.

Redvers-Chubb, K. (2016). De Quervain’s syndrome: It may not be an isolated pathology. Hand Therapy. 21(1): 25-32.

Linscheid, R. L. and Dobyns, J. H. (2002). Dynamic carpal stability. In The Keio Journal of Medicine 51(3):140-7.

Licano, J. E. (2016). How Do Scapholunate Instabilities and Distal Radial Fractures Affect Wrist Kinematics? In Radiologic technology 88(1):84-89.


Action Rehab provide assessment and treatment for all conditions relating to the upper limb, include scaphoid fractures. Come and see our highly qualified and friendly staff today at a location convenient to you.