De Quervain Tenosynovitis Exercises

Learn about De Quervain Tenosynovitis exercises

Doesn't it seem like joints and their respective tendons hurt more than anything else? People seem to suffer the most from painful knees and ankles. However, wrist and thumb pain is making its presence felt.

It's called De Quervain tenosynovitis, meaning pain in the tendons. It makes picking up a child, holding a hammer, or grasping a glass jar a little more difficult than usual. When people can't get a grip, so to speak, then they have to ask others to help with ordinary tasks.

Below is more information about the subject.

Never heard of De Quervain Tenosynovitis

Tendons connect muscles to bones. Tendons move the bones in the joints. The tendon leading from the wrist to the back of the thumb is encased in a tunnel of sorts. When the tendon rubs up against the tunnel, inflammation happens. This is where the pain in the wrist and thumb originates.

What causes it?

No one knows what causes this pain. It's when the thumb is moved away from the wrist that the condition arises. The Mayo Clinic thinks that “clenching the fist, gripping, pinching and wringing the wrist and thumb connection repeatedly” causes the condition. It has been noted that things like a blow to the thumb or wrist and arthritis exacerbate the situation.

Also noted is the fact that women endure this pain, especially during pregnancy, more than men do.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling at the base of the thumb
  • Hesitation when the thumb is moving
  • Loss of range of motion of thumb and wrist
  • It hurts when a fist is made
  • Pinching or grasping things causes pain

What can be done about it?

The first thing a doctor will tell a sufferer is to stop doing whatever is causing the pain. Someone else will have to mop at work for four to six weeks, drive the car or bang that hammer.

Most doctors will prescribe anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen for the pain and swelling. Sufferers may be told to ice it down for around 20 minutes several times a day to keep down pain and swelling. A splint might be a good idea to keep the digit immobilized while the pain is being dealt with. De Quervain Tenosynovitis exercises would be a good idea.


Stretches prep a body part for exercise. It wakes up the muscles as well as cooling them down following the exercise:

  1. Put the hand on a table, palm up. Touch the tip of the little finger with the tip of the thumb. Relax. Do this ten times, three times per day.
  2. Bend the wrist back toward the arm. Now bend the wrist down toward the floor. Do not overstretch the wrist; it will cause pain. Do this ten times, three times per day.

Range of motion exercises

Wrist extension and flexion. This may seem like the stretch described above, but in this exercise, the wrist won't be bent so far backward. It is a gentle and simple flexing of the wrist. Place the arm on a table or something solid. Slowly and gently lift the wrist. Relax. Do this ten times, three times per day.

Rotate. Stand or sit with the arm at the side. Bend the elbow to the side as if preparing to shake hands. Keep the palm up. Now turn the palm down toward the floor. Return to palm up. Do this ten times, three times per day. It exercises the muscles and tendons from the sides of the wrist.

Shake hands. Stand or sit with the arm bent 90 degrees to the side. Lift the thumb and wrist as if shaking hands. Do this ten times, three times per day. This keeps the range of motion at its peak.

Pound it. This exercise improves range of motion of both thumb and wrist. With the arm at the side, elbow bent 90 degrees, palm down, make a fist with the thumb inside the fingers. It should look as if a “pound it” (like a high five except with a fist) is about to happen. Slowly and gently lift the fist back toward the arm; just a gentle lift is necessary. Relax. Do this ten times, three times per day.

Last Reviewed:
June 21, 2017
Last Updated:
October 12, 2017