While there are many different problems that can cause pain and swelling of the wrist, from a simple sprain to severe arthritis, one of the more common causes is DeQuervain Tenosynovitis.
DeQuervain Tenosynovitis is inflammation of tissue on the thumb side of the wrist. Tendons (cord-like fibers that attach muscle to bone) and synovium (a slick membrane that covers tendons and allows them to glide easily during movement) become irritated and inflamed, causing pain. The pain is felt on the thumb side of the wrist. Swelling is often present.
Symptoms of DeQuervain Tenosynovitis:
- Pain and tenderness at the thumb side of the wrist.
- Possibly swelling and redness in the affected area.
Causes of DeQuervain Tenosynovitis:
- Repetitive movement of the wrist, overuse.
(Young mothers often diagnosed as a result of lifting their small children.)
- Direct trauma.
- Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflamed tendons will be evident upon a thorough examination of the hand and wrist and a diagnosis will be made.
- Rest (avoiding activities that cause pain).
- Oral anti-inflammatory medications (to decrease inflammation).
- A thumb spica splint (to rest the thumb and wrist and decrease inflammation).
- A small injection of cortisone in the wrist (to decrease inflammation).
If these conservative treatments fail to relieve the pain, surgical repair may be recommended. Surgery entails the release of the ligament tunnel surroundings the tendons, which permit the tendons to move more easily reducing inflammation and pain. Sometimes, hand therapy is also needed after surgery in order to restore grip strength and range of motion, as well as minimize swelling and pain.
While, pain and swelling is often resolved with non-operative treatment, the recovery period following surgery, if required, is short with minimal limitation in hand use.