February 18, 2018 2 min read
Thumb tendon pain can come on just like any other tendon in the body. There are several things that can make the thumb painful and often is associated with repetitive strain. Tendons in the body don't like sudden changes in speed (of movement) and load (effort or resistance to movement) - changing keyboards at work or unusual gripping and lifting are good examples. When these factors change the tendons have to be able to transfer the effort of the muscle to the bone which then creates the movement. If it's too much for the tendon it can become inflamed and painful. Over time, with repeated effort, the pain can worsen and even though inflammation may reduce, the tendon can weaken under the repeated stress.
The main culprit is the tendon Abductor Pollis Longus (that is Latin for the muscle with the long tendon that acts to take the thumb away from the hand). Frequently named DeQuervain's Syndrome after the surgeon who identified it, also known as gamer's thumb, blackberry thumb, washerwoman's thumb or texter's thumb.
Common De Quervain's syndrome symptoms are:
In more severe cases:
Steroid injection into the tendon sheath, to surround the irritated tendon with anti-inflammatory. Reducing the pain to allow for strengthening rehabilitation and adequate rest in a splint.
Surgical decompression is an invasive method of management. A surgeon would aim to release the tendon sheath to relieve the pressure on the tendon. This aims to reduce the friction which contributes to pain and inflammation. Pain relief is usually rapid although some physiotherapy will be required to regain full strength and make sure the scar tissue doesn’t cause any problems.
In all cases splinting and rehabilitation with a physiotherapist are essential to promote a return to full strength and function.
The thumb support is able to reinforce a weakened thumb in order to increase grip strength and reduce pain. It will keep the thumb in a natural resting position so the inflamed tendons can recover.
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