deQuervain's - A.K.A. 'Blackberry Thumb'

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Thumb injuries and thumb joint pain are especially serious because thumb use is a requirement of most functions of the hand.

If the thumb is out of commission, the ability to grasp or hold on to objects is gone.

deQuervain's Symptoms:

  • An early symptom of trouble is tenderness or soreness in the area near the joint at the base of the thumb.
  • As the injury worsens, pain starts to radiate into the thumb and forearm.
  • A clicking or squeaking sound might be heard at the base of the thumb as the tendons controlling thumb motion move by each other.
  • Difficulty grasping, pinching and holding objects.   These actions are daily requirements at home, at work and at school.
  • Discomfort in the arm and shoulder caused by movements changed to compensate for the pain of deQuervain's.

deQuervain's Cause:

Connective tissue in the thumb area includes the tendons that straighten & bend the thumb and the fluid sheath surrounding these tendons.  When this tissue becomes irritated, inflamed and swollen, symptoms of constriction and nerve impingement appear.

Irritation can occur as a result of repetitive, non-neutral (flexed in the direction of the little finger), forceful actions done by the thumb, for example:

  • texting or browsing on a mobile communication device,
  • playing video games,
  • gripping tools, particularly if rotation is involved,
  • grasping small instruments, and
  • typing on a computer.

Browse our Site Map for information about injury risk factors, other symptoms, types of injury, the fundamental cause of injury and the PRSI Break solution.

Common Treatments for deQuervain's:

Treatments used for deQuervain's include:

  • reduced mobility through rest or splinting,
  • medication, including corticosteroid injections,
  • manual manipulation of the thumb joint area, and
  • surgery.

The issue with these treatments is they are treating the symptoms but not the cause of deQuervain's.

When the treatment stops, wears off or heals (scar tissue), the symptoms often return.

Effective Treatment and Prevention of deQuervain's:

The most effective, least invasive method for treating and preventing deQuervain's is systematic, therapeutic stretching of the connective tissue.

The primary focus areas for this stretching are the thumb, hand, wrist and arm.  To ensure results, it is also necessary to stretch the connective tissue throughout the rest of the body.

If you haven't read the information located in the RSI Cause section, please take a few moments to do so.  It will clarify the reason for stretching throughout the body and provide more information about the connective tissue system.

If Your Regular Activities Include Non-Neutral Positioning and Overuse of the Thumb, Take Action Now.

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