by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tissue that covers a tendon. Tendons are cords that connect bones to muscles. It is most common in the hand, wrist, and foot.

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Common causes are:

  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Strain
  • Repetitive motions

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Jobs, sports, or activities that involve repetitive motion
  • Diseases that cause inflammation, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis


Problems may be swelling and pain, especially with motion.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the painful tendon. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Imaging tests may be done to confirm it.

A blood test may also be done to look for signs of infection.


The goal of treatment is to ease pain and swelling. This will make it easier to move. Options may be:

  • A brace or splint to prevent motion
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Antibiotics to treat any infection


Surgery may be done if other methods do not help. The surgery will release the tendon and allow it to move freely.


To lower the risk of tenosynovitis:

  • Take breaks from activities.
  • Adjust workspaces to minimize the strain on joints.


American Society for Surgery of the Hand 

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation 

Health Canada 


De Quervain tendonitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated December 2013. Accessed March 25, 2020.

De Quervain tenosynovitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  . Updated May 14, 2019. Accessed March 25, 2020.

Derry S, Moore RA, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;(6):CD007402.

Goel R, Abzug JM. de Quervain's tenosynovitis: a review of the rehabilitative options. Hand (N Y). 2015 Mar;10(1):1-5.

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