If you are a game addict, you might be quite familiar with gamer’s thumb. And if you are not then let me tell you what it is. Gamer’s thumb is also known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis or Quervain’s syndrome. It is a painful condition that affects the tendons in of wrist and thumb. In this condition, it is painful when you turn your wrist, make a fist or grasp anything. Technically, the rope-like structured tendons attach your muscle to the bone. When you move your hands, grasp or pinch anything, two tendons in your wrist and lower thumb glide through a small tunnel. The repetition of the movement or any of the causes listed below can cause swelling and thickening of the tendons. This swelling causes compression of the tendons in the narrow tunnel they pass through hence resulting in pain.
Causes of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis:
- Repetitive wrists or hand movements, like gardening, gaming, playing golf or racket sports,
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Direct injury to the thumb.
- Scar tissue from an old injury can also restrict the activity of the tendons.
Symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis:
- Swelling/pain on or near the base of the thumb (characteristic sign)
- Difficulty in moving your wrist or thumb
- Difficulty in grasping or pinching
- Difficulty in performing ADL’s (activities of daily living) like grasping things like a cup of tea/plate/glass of water.
Diagnosis involves a thorough check of the hand. The examination involves making a fist by bending the fingers down over the thumb which gives a nice stretch to the tendons, and if you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, you will feel pain on the thumb side of the wrist-This test is known as Finkelstein test.
The main aim of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis treatment is to reduce inflammation and preserve thumb movement. If you start your treatment on time, you might get rid of all the symptoms within four to six weeks. However, for pregnant ladies, the duration might continue throughout the pregnancy period.
In most cases, doctors prescribe certain medications to reduce pain and swelling. Some OTC relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can be of great help. Depending on the severity doctors, might recommend injections into the tendons and reduce the swelling.
De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can be cured with physical therapy as well. Consult a professional therapist to relieve the symptoms. Therapy might include:
keeping thumb and wrist straight with a splint or brace.
Strengthening exercises for wrist/arm.
Avoiding repetitive thumb movement
Applying ice on the affected area
If not treated timely, the condition gets serious and the only option left is surgery. In this outpatient If you are feeling difficulty in moving your thumb, make sure it is not de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. And if the symptoms direct you towards that, seek medical care!