Tendinitis In Thumb

By Julia Guthart OT/CHT

Tendinitis in the Thumb

Tendonitis of the thumb can be very painful and debilitating. From gripping and pinching, to texting and typing, there are few functional tasks that do not require use of the thumb. Two common types of thumb tendonitis are DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis and trigger thumb. DeQuervain’s is a painful inflammation in the “anatomical snuffbox,” which is located at the base of the thumb and wrist. Repetitive movements at this area can cause micro tears, leading to swelling of the synovial sheath surrounding the tendons.  Trigger thumb, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, can cause a locking sensation, as well as pain and inflammation. Both of these syndromes can also be caused by trauma and impact injuries and are often associated with repetitive work related tasks. Frequent use of hammers, vibration tools,  or scissors can cause repetitive strain. New mothers often develop DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis from regularly lifting their new babies.

Thumb in brace from tendonitis.

Image of Injured Thumb in Brace.

Conservative management of thumb tendonitis may include activity modification, modalities to reduce inflammation, soft tissue massage, and custom splinting/bracing. Corticosteroid injections from a skilled physician can also be very helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Without treatment,  tendons may become chronically inflamed and frayed, requiring surgical intervention for relief.

Dr. Garry Kitay states “although the majority of thumb injuries can be treated with bracing and rest, certain conditions need urgent attention in order to avoid long term harm. These include several types of ligament ruptures and unstable fractures. If your pain is severe, or you are not improving quickly, seek medical attention.” Dr. Kitay is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and he practices at the San Marco Clinic.

The hand and thumb experts at JOI can help if you have tendinitis of the thumb.  To schedule an appointment with a physician call JOI-2000. JOI also has skilled Certified Hand Therapists who can help you through the rehab process with your injury.


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If you would like to learn more about Tendinitis in the Thumb, please click here:

Or, if you would like to learn about De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, click here

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