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De Quervain’s disease

Inflammation of the sheath of the short extensor tendon (extensor pollicis brevis) and long abductor tendon (abductor pollicis longus) to the thumb can occur. This is most commonly caused by repetitive thumb and wrist movements.

Symptoms and diagnosis

– Pain and tenderness are located at the base of the thumb where the tendons cross the wrist.
– Pain occurs with active thumb extension and abduction against resistance.
– Pain is elicited by placing the thumb in the palm followed by ulnar deviation of the wrist (Finkelstein’s test).

The doctor may:
– advise a change in training;
– apply a splint to rest the thumb (depending on the degree of symptoms, the splint may be worn only at night, during activities, or continuously);
– give anti-inflammatory medications;
– inject steroid in the sheath around the tendons;
– operate to release the sheath covering the tendons in cases refractory to the above measures.


The athlete may return to sports as soon as symptoms allow. Taping, bracing or splinting may be helpful during activities.

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