Can De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Be Treated by Chiropractors?

by | Jan 15, 2022 | 0 comments

5 min read

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a hand condition that primarily affects those who perform continuous, rapid or repeated motions. It can come on suddenly or develop gradually, starting with pain in the thumb area and progressing to other hand parts. While it may limit mobility, it doesn’t mean that one should live with it forever. Chiropractic care can help alleviate the symptoms of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and restore the hand’s normal movement and function.


What Is De Quervain’s Stenosing Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (DQT) is a condition where the tendons of the first thumb extensor muscle become inflamed about their point of insertion on the radial styloid process.

The abductor pollicis longus and the extensor pollicis brevis, both responsible for thumb movement, are the two tendons that De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis targets. When the sheaths covering these two tendons swell up, they cause pain and tenderness in the thumb area.

People whose work or hobbies involve daily repetitive hand movements are the most susceptible to De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. For example, gardeners, tennis players, golfers, and mothers often get this condition.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is also known as “mommy thumb” since it often happens in mothers who take care of their children and maintain the household. Studies also reveal that pregnant women are more likely to develop De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, hence the fitting term.


What Are the Symptoms of De Quervain’s Stenosing Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis symptoms can manifest in several ways. Here are some tell-tale signs to know if you have developed the condition:

  • You’re experiencing pain around your thumb area.
  • When performing activities that require pinching or grasping, you might have trouble moving or controlling your thumb and wrist.
  • The base of your thumb or your thumb area is swelling and tender.
  • You feel a “catch” or “sticking” sensation when moving your thumb.

When the condition isn’t treated or worsens, it may affect the forearm and entire thumb, causing even more discomfort and swelling. In addition, movements that involve the wrist and thumb might exacerbate pain and symptoms, which can last for weeks or even months.


How Is De Quervain’s Stenosing Tenosynovitis Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, seek help from a medical professional and have them examine your hand. The doctor will most likely perform a Finkelstein test which involves bending your thumb across the palm of your hand and bending your fingers down over your thumb. Then, you bend your wrist towards your pinky finger. If you feel pain on the thumb side of your wrist, then your doctor will most probably diagnose you with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Is a Common Cause of Thumb Pain & Wrist Pain

While the exact cause of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is not known, the condition is mainly attributed to chronic wrist overuse. The tendons found in the wrist and lower thumb are responsible for hand movements like gripping, grasping, pinching, and wringing. Over time, these movements can cause the sheath protecting the tendons to expand and thicken, restricting the tendon’s mobility.


Who Is at Risk for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can affect anyone. However, research has shown that these groups rank the highest for those at risk of developing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis:

  • Individuals around 30 to 50 years old (statistically with a higher concentration around 40 years old);
  • Women;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Individuals who are responsible for child-rearing;
  • Individuals with jobs or hobbies involving repetitive wrist and hand motions (e.g., carpenters, painters, tennis players, gardeners, etc.);
  • People who love to text and scroll through their phones the whole day.

Before the age of SMS and social media, De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis was known to have only affected middle-aged folks. However, a recent study has shown that most students who texted excessively were diagnosed with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.


What Kind of Splint Is Best for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

A splint is the most common treatment for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Splints are used to help reduce pain and stiffness. The splints will depend on the nature and duration of the symptoms:

  • Soft, flexible splints for minor or occasional discomfort;
  • Moderately restrictive splints for more severe and chronic symptoms;
  • Firm splint supports that restrict movement for severe and long-standing pain.

Moreover, doctors may recommend that their patients wear a thumb spica splint to help immobilize the thumb. Patients are typically advised to wear it 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 weeks.


Exercises for De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Strengthening exercises have been found to speed up the recovery process and alleviate De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis symptoms. Thumb lifts, wrist extensions and flexions, stretches, and radial deviation strengthening exercises are all excellent ways to get your thumb and wrists moving smoothly again. You will need a rubber band, small weight, putty ball, and an elastic resistance band to get started on these exercises.

These exercises will allow you to improve wrist function and prevent De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis from occurring again. Additionally, by performing these exercises, you will learn how to move your wrist in a way where stress is reduced. If you do the strengthening activities daily, you will see an improvement within four to six weeks.


How Can Chiropractic Care Treat De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Chiropractors may recommend rest, ice, and bracing for a patient with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Chiropractors will also examine the patient thoroughly and advise lifestyle and habit changes for the patient as they deem fit.

In addition to taking anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), chiropractors will also recommend that the patient participate in soft tissue therapies, which speed up the healing of the inflammation and pain.

Once the pain and discomfort ease, the chiropractor will recommend various strengthening and stretching activities for the wrist, thumb, and forearm that will help regain full mobility again.


We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, NJ, and Hackensack, NJ, are ready to welcome you!