by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Tendons are the cords that connect bones to muscles in the body. They are covered by a sleeve-like tissue. Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of this tissue. It occurs most often in the hand, wrist, or foot.
Most cases of tenosynovitis are caused by one of the following:
Factors that may increase your risk of tenosynovitis include:
Tenosynovitis may cause:
Tenosynovitis is common in the tendons of the thumb. This is called de Quervain tenosynovitis. It causes pain and stiffness in the thumb side of the wrist.
The wrists, hands, and feet are also commonly affected. Tenosynovitis that affects tendons of the fingers can also make the finger stick in a bent position.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include an assessment of the joint.
A blood test may also be done. It will be done to look for signs of bacterial infection or other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. You may be referred to a hand specialist.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. The goal of treatment is to reduce swelling and pain and to allow the tendon to move freely. Treatment options include the following:
The tendon will need time to heal. Supportive care may include the following:
A physical therapist will assess the tendon. An exercise program will be created to reduce discomfort and promote recovery. The therapist may also suggest modifications to your workplace to reduce stress to the area.
Several medications are used to treat tenosynovitis. These include:
Surgery may be used for severe tenosynovitis. The surgery will release the tendon and allow it to move freely.
To prevent tenosynovitis, avoid overuse of your tendons. Take the following steps if you have a job or hobby that involves repetitive motions of the hand, wrist, or foot:
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
de Quervain's tenosynovitis. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 27, 2018.
De Quervain tendonitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 2013. Accessed March 27, 2018.
De Quervain tenosynovitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated April 28, 2017. Accessed March 27, 2018.
Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 2/28/2014
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