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Tenosynovitis (de Quervain)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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In de Quervain's disease, the sheath containing extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus tendons becomes thickened and inflamed.

  • De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a stenosing tenosynovitis of the first extensor compartment of the wrist and leads to pain on the radial (thumb) side of the wrist and impaired function of the wrist and hand
    • condition is colloquially termed 'washerwoman's thumb' due to the high incidence seen in women who wash clothes by the traditional hand method
    • occurs commonly in women and usually affects 30-50-year-olds
    • occurs as the tendon sheath containing the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus becomes thickened and inflamed
    • patient presents with pain, tenderness and swelling over the radial side of the wrist and difficulty gripping


  • (1) Arthritis Research UK (April 2013). The upper limb in primary care. Part 2: Wrist, hand. Hands On 2(7).

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