De Quervain's disease, also known as de Quervain's tenosynovitis, is an inflammation of the two tendons that run from the back of thumb and down the side of the wrist. The disease was first identified in 1895 by Fritz de Quervain, after whom it is named. The swollen tendons and their coverings may cause friction within the narrow tunnel through which they pass. The end result is pain at the base of the thumb.
Symptoms are pain at the radial side of the wrist, spasms, tenderness, occasional burning sensation in the hand, and swelling over the thumb side of the wrist, and difficulty gripping with the affected side of the hand. The onset is often gradual. Pain is made worse by movement of the thumb and wrist, and may radiate to the thumb or the forearm.
During the de Quervain's release procedure, the doctor will inspect the sheath that surrounds the involved tendon or tendons. The sheath is then opened to relieve the pressure, eliminate pain and inflammation and restore free tendon gliding. De Quervain's release is performed as an outpatient procedure, and generally takes a few hours to complete. Following surgery, a customized exercise program can be highly beneficial to improve the strength of the thumb and wrist.
Risks of de Quervain's Release
Although de Quervain's release is considered a safe procedure, like all forms of surgery, it does carry some risk. The complications associated with this procedure may include:
- Nerve damage
- Blood loss
- Injury to the arteries of the fingers or hand
- Allergic reaction to pain medication following surgery
Some patients may be at greater risk for developing these complications after undergoing a de Quervain's release due to lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, a history of alcoholism, past steroid use or age, especially if the patient is older than 60.
Results of de Quervain's Release
De Quervain's release is often successful in relieving a patient's symptoms. In some cases, however, the symptoms of the condition do eventually reoccur. The results of the procedure will vary somewhat, depending on a number of factors including the patient's age, general health and how long the symptoms have been present.