Treating and Preventing DeQuervain’s Syndrome

We use our thumb and wrist in many actions during the course of a day. Gripping, holding, lifting, turning handles, driving a car and many other daily manoeuvres need the thumb and the wrist. Even working on computers requires thumb and wrist action. The joints are held together by strong ligaments and tendons. These are attached to the muscles that contract and relax to ease movement.
These ligaments and tendons offer support and allow for movement in the joints. The tendons and ligaments can be injured by acute forces outside the normal range. They can also be injured or become inflamed, from overuse. Quervain’s syndrome is one of those injuries to the thumb and wrist that can be very painful and, in extreme cases, debilitating.
If you suffer from Quervain’s syndrome or are seeking to prevent its occurrence it is important to follow the information in this article.

What is Quervain’s Syndrome?
De Quervain’s syndrome is a condition named for the Swiss surgeon Fritz de Quervain, who identified the condition in 1895. It is an inflammation of the sheath or covering, of two tendons of the thumb. This inflammation cause compression of the tendons, reducing their ability to slide through as needed for movement.

This condition is not commonly associated with any disease process or dangerous condition. It does, however, often need medical intervention to improve. This syndrome is more common in women than in men. Quervain’s syndrome is similar to tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome as a condition brought on by overuse. Please see preview of Quervain’s syndrome in the below image.

DeQuervain's Syndrome

What causes Quervain’s Syndrome?
Quervain’s syndrome is an overuse injury like many other tendon injuries. Continuous gripping, pinching, squeezing or wringing motions can lead to this condition, hence the name washerwoman’s sprain.

Signs and Symptoms
Pain in the thumb and lateral wrist, over the radius, especially during use, is common with this injury. Tenderness and swelling over the area may also be present. The pain may progress further up the forearm as the injury worsens. A progressive loss of function in the thumb may occur due to the increasing pain. The range of motion of the thumb may begin to decrease. Crepitus, or a creaking, may be experienced in the affected area.

Rest, ice and NSAIDs may give relief and reversal of this condition, especially if it is caught early enough. Splinting with a thumb-spica splint may be necessary to reduce the movement of the wrist and lower joints of the thumb. If these interventions do not work, then cortisone shot into the irritated area may be the next course of action. Physical therapy may also be used to retrain movements to avoid or change the method of those daily actions that caused the inflammation.
The last step, if all other interventions fail, is surgery to release the tendons and provide more space for them to move. Following the surgery physical therapy may still be required to retrain the movements that caused the injury.
Prevention of overuse injuries commonly requires breaking up sessions of work or practice involving a particular area into shorter periods with more frequent breaks to allow that area to rest and avoid the overuse.
• A proper warm up before doing any lifting, grasping or holding for extended periods may prepare the tendons for the task and prevent some of the strain placed on them.
• Avoidance of activities that cause pain is a common sense prevention method that often gets ignored. If a movement causes pain, find another activity or action that accomplishes the same task without the pain.
• Flexible muscles reduce overall tension on the tendons, which reduces the inflammation to the sheaths that cover them.
• Muscles that are trained regularly are suppler and repair quicker. They are also much less prone to injuries that can lead to tendon issues.
• Rest is essential for healthy joints, tendons and ligaments. These structures cannot repair when they are under stress. They need rest to repair damage and rebuild.
• Eating a diet with essential fats and oils for lubrication, protein for repairs and calcium for strong bones, along with other vitamins and minerals will reduce the risk of injury and offer the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
• Strengthening the wrist and forearm will offer the support needed in the wrist to prevent this condition. It is important not to give to the overuse syndrome through training, however, by choosing exercises that do not directly simulate the overused motion.
• Avoid repetitive motions that cause this condition and retraining the body to reduce the strain on the wrist during daily activities will help prevent Quervain’s syndrome.

The concepts with respect to Causes and prevention of DeQuervain’s Syndrome is courtesy


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