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10 Ways to Ease the Pain From De Quervain Tenosynovitis

De Quervain tenosynovitis affects the tendons in the wrist, which can be quite painful. The reason it is so painful because two tendons around the base of the thumb become swollen. When the thumb becomes swollen, the tendons have a covering called a sheath that becomes inflamed. The nerves become affected and cause pain and numbness in the thumb. The pain can either begin slowly or come on fast.

It depends on how damaged the tendon in the thumb is. The pain could go all the way up to the forearm. The pain usually gets worse whenever the hand, wrist, and thumb are used.  The reason the pain in the hand, wrist, and thumb are so bad is because it has been overused, such as picking up a child or typing at a computer. Even though the pain can be excruciating, there are eight ways to ease the pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis.

1. Take over-the-counter medication

like Ibuprofen or Aleve to help with inflammation and pain. When taking over-the-counter medication, it’s best to take the recommended daily dosage. Taking more than recommended can cause other issues like stomach aches. The pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis may go away and come back if the person decides to use the wrist, hand, or thumb at any time. It’s best to rest the entire arm until the medicine kicks in.

Once the medicine starts working, check and see if the pain comes back if the hand, wrist, or thumb is used.  A good thing to remember also is to drink a full glass of water when taking over-the-counter medication. Drinking alcoholic beverages with over-the-counter medications may cause side effects. Aleve and Ibuprofen medicines should only be taken for a week. There is no need to double on dosage to make the pain go away quicker.

2. Apply ice or heat

Apply ice or heat to the wrist, thumb, or hand for a few minutes a day can help ease the pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis. Icing the affected area allows the pain and swelling to go down while heat relaxes the muscles. It is recommended to ice the area for at least five to 10 minutes a couple of times a day. When applying ice, make sure the affected area is in a position where it won’t need to be bent or anything.

A way to do this is to place the arm on a pillow and put the ice pack on the affected area. There is no need to be quick to use the hand, arm, or wrist after icing. If a chiropractor suggested ice therapy, he or she may prescribe using the ice pack for a set number of weeks to see if it helped with the pain or not.

3. Avoid engaging in activities

Avoid engaging in activities that causes the use of the hand, wrist, and thumb is a way to ease the pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis. By avoided activities that involve repetitive motion, allows the swelling and pain to go away after a while. The longer the affected area is allowed to rest, it can heal, so that the person can go back to engaging in the activity again.

For example, a person who types on the computer on a daily basis may start to have pain in their wrist and hands, especially if the person has been using the bad form for years. The person will need to avoid typing until the wrist and hand heals completely. In the healing phase, a doctor could show the person the correct way to position the wrists when working at a computer to avoid any future pain associated with de Quervain tenosynovitis.

4. Wearing a splint

Wearing a splint for four to six weeks can help ease the pain when a person has de Quervain tenosynovitis because it allows the affected area to rest and avoid further pain. When wearing a splint, it is good to wear it for 24 hours. It allows the thumb, wrist, or hand to stay in one position without having to bend it. This allows for faster healing and depending on where the affected area is located, the person may still be able to use it, especially if the pain is in the thumb

The person can use their other fingers to do work or use their other hand. To avoid odor from the splint, the person can take the split off and clean it with soap and warm water and let it air dry. Some homemade splits can be thrown away and another one made, such as using popsicle sticks for a thumb splint.

5. Use topical analgesics

Use topical analgesics such as Biofreeze is another way to ease pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis because it uses a form of ice therapy. When using topical analgesics, it is important to rub the cream or ointment into the affected area until it is absorbed. This allows for the medication to penetrate to the pain area. Using a thin layer is all that is needed to start feeling relief

Since the topical analgesic is on the wrist, hand, or thumb area, it can be difficult to keep it on the area, especially it’s important to keep the hands washed, especially after using the restroom. Wrapping the hand, wrist, or thumb area may be an option to avoid the cream or ointment washing off. When reapplying, just unwrap and put more on. Over time, the pain should ease up to a point where it doesn’t need to be used as often.

6. Surgery

Surgery is the last option that a person should consider when trying to ease the pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis. Usually, surgery is only recommended when the pain is so severe that only surgery is the only way to get relief. The outpatient surgery will more than likely be done in the doctor’s office where the sheath surrounding the tendons. The sheaths are opened so that the tendons can move freely to release any pressure, which is causing the pain.

The doctor will give the patient a recovery plan that may consist of pain medication or physical therapy. The patient needs to follow through with the course of therapy recommended for him or her so that the affected area can heal. The doctor may suggest strengthening exercises that the patient can do at home and also tell him or her ways to avoid irritating the wrist, arm, or hand.

7. Local anesthetic medicine or steroid injections

Local anesthetic medicine or steroid injections can ease the pain by numbing the affected area. The injections are injected into the tendon sheaths, which allows the pain to go away. A specialized doctor is the only person who can do this type of injection and will prescribe the amount of dosing and length of time needed to relieve the pain. It is usually done on a regular basis and is quite effective.

Even though it’s effective, a person has to be careful about how long he or she decides to take injections. It’s okay to have injections for a few weeks, but if it lasts longer than six months, there may be side effects. Steroid injections are a short-term pain relief solution for de Quervain tenosynovitis. The injections could cause the pain to go away completely and no other treatment isn’t needed. If the pain doesn’t go away, the person should look into other ways to get relief.

8. Physical therapy

Physical therapy can provide exercises for the person to do to help him or her ease the pain from de Quervain tenosynovitis. The physical therapist will require the person to come into the office a certain number of days a week for however many months. It just depends on the person’s plan for their de Quervain tenosynovitis. While physical therapy is done in the office, the therapist will also show the person exercises he or she can do at home in their spare time.

This helps with the healing process. In physical therapy, the therapist will help the person strengthen his or her muscles by using their hands and machines. Physical therapy may consist of massages or electrical stimulation. The therapist will show the person ways to lift the wrist, arm, or thumb to avoid pain. Topical ointment and ice packs may be given in addition to completing strengthening exercises at home.

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