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A tender swelling at the base of your thumb and pain or stiffness when you move your wrist and thumb can all be symptoms of De Quervain’s disease – a condition often referred to as ‘washerwoman strain’, ‘BlackBerry thumb’ or ‘gamer’s thumb’. The pain you feel is due to a thickening of the fibrous roof of the narrow tunnel that your two thumb tendons glide through, at the base of your thumb.
If your symptoms are mild then rest, anti-inflammatory painkillers, physiotherapy and a night splint may help, and steroid injections can relieve the pain for many people. If these methods have been unsuccessful then surgery should help alleviate the pain.
During your operation, which is likely to use a local anaesthetic and takes around half an hour, your surgeon will make a small incision at the base of your thumb and then cut open the roof of the tunnel. This will allow your thumb tendons to glide freely through the tunnel.
You will usually be able to go home on the same day, although your hand should remain bandaged and raised for the next few days. Gentle exercise of your fingers, elbow and shoulders will help prevent stiffness and promote a speedy recovery, but do check with your consultant. Most people find their symptoms improve quickly following their surgery.
This page provides information about surgery for De Quervain’s disease. Please contact your consultant for further information.
EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.