Wrist pain near the base of the thumb may be tendonitis. The tendons that extend the thumb pass through a “compartment” on the side of the wrist. If the tendons become inflamed specifically in that area where the tendons pass through the compartment it is common to develop pain with thumb and wrist motion. The diagnosis is DEQUERVAIN’S TENOSYNOVITIS. The pain associated with Dequervain’s can range from moderate to debilitating.

Symptoms:

Pain with thumb extension and wrist deviation Possible swelling in the area of tendonitis
Tenderness of the tendons as they pass over the wrist

Treatment:

Immobilizing the thumb in a spin will improve symptoms
Steroids may resolve the inflammation
Therapy to decrease local inflammation
If conservative measures fail, operative release of the tendon compartment at the wrist

Surgery is the last resort. Operative release of the tendon compartment relieves the pressure on the tendon allowing the inflammation to resolve. The operation can be done in an operating room with sedation or in a clinic setting under local anesthesia.