11 Exercises to Reduce De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain Tenosynovitis is a painful condition that occurs when the two tendons of the thumb (on the thumb side of the wrist) are overused or irritated.

These tendons are covered by a smooth coating called the synovium that allows them to slide back and forth smoothly through the sheath that surrounds them. Occasionally, overuse of the hand or wrist can cause these tendons or sheaths themselves to swell and become inflamed.

This can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Pinpoint pain on the thumb side of the wrist
  • swelling or puffiness near the base of the thumb
  • Numbness or tingling in the back of the thumb or middle finger
  • Snap or catch feeling when you move your thumb
  • Subtle squeaking noises when the thumb moves

This article will outline several exercises and other interventions that may help relieve symptoms of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

How Exercise Helps Treat De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Exercise is part of a multifaceted approach to treating de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Analgesic cortisone injection
  • splint
  • activity modification

Often, occupational or physical therapy also begins early in the process.

During recovery, your therapist will teach you specific techniques designed to increase the mobility of the affected thumb tendons (abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis).

Initially, painless thumb and wrist range-of-motion exercises are performed to improve tendon sliding within the sheath. Afterwards, strengthening exercises can also be added to help you resume your previous activities.

what do you need to start

Fortunately, most exercises for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis don’t require much equipment.

Techniques are usually performed using only table tops, light weights, resistance bands, squeezable balls or putty blocks.

Safety Tips and Precautions

Before starting any new exercise, be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider whether it is right for you. Also, don’t continue any exercise that will make your symptoms worse.


Some of the most common exercises for this diagnosis are:


Sit on a table with your palms facing up. Slowly move your thumb across your hand and try to touch your pinky.

As they touch each other, hold the pose for six seconds, then relax.

Repeat 10 times a day.

wrist stretch

With your elbows straight and your palms facing down, extend your arms in front of your body. With the other hand, pull up on the affected palm until you feel a stretch.

Hold this tension for 15-30 seconds before letting go.

Complete two to three repetitions per day.

wrist extension

Assume the same arm position as the wrist extension stretch, only this time push the top of the affected hand down.

When you feel a stretch, hold this position for 15-30 seconds.

Again, try to do it two or three times a day.

Wrist radial deviation enhancement

Hold a light weight and let your hand hang over the edge of the table with your thumb facing up. Slowly move your wrist up and down in a pain-free range without lifting your forearm off the surface.

Do two sets of 15 repetitions a day.

Wrist stretch strengthening

Hold one end of the resistance band and let your hand drop the palm of your hand from the edge of the table. Secure the other end of the strap and move your wrist up as the tension on the strap increases. At the top of your comfort zone, rest for a second, then slowly return to the starting position.

Try three sets of 15 repetitions per day.

Wrist flexion strengthening

Holding a stationary resistance band, take the same position as the wrist extension strengthening exercise, but with your palms facing up. Slowly raise your hands toward the ceiling without causing pain, then return to the starting position.

Repeat the exercise 15 times and try to complete two sets per day.

Grip strength

Take a soft ball or a piece of putty, make a fist and hold it for five seconds. Relax your hands before repeating the exercise.

Try two sets of 15 repetitions per day.

finger spring

Tie a large rubber band around your thumb and fingers. Place your palms face down on the table and spread your fingers as far as possible as you stretch the straps. Hold this position for a second or two before relaxing.

Try 15 times in a row, two sets a day.

thumb lift

Place the outside of your hand on the table and lift your thumb away from the table in an arcing motion (like you’re giving a thumbs up) until you feel a pull. Hold this stretch for six seconds.

Repeat this technique 8 to 12 times.

thumb flexion

Take the same position as the thumb lift exercise. This time, use your other hand to gently push your thumb down toward your palm. When you feel a stretch, hold for 15-30 seconds.

Try to complete two to four repetitions per day.

Finkelstein stretch

Make a fist around the affected thumb and extend your arm in front of you. With your palm facing in, push your fist down with your other hand until you feel a pull on the thumb side of your wrist. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Do stretches two to four times a day.

When to see a healthcare provider

Adjusting your activity to avoid repetitive or potentially irritating movements is a key component when treating de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. This action — along with icing the area and taking an over-the-counter (OTC) NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin ibuprofen or Aleve naproxen) — should help Relieve your initial symptoms.

If these initial conservative strategies fail to improve your condition, or if your symptoms worsen in general, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. After a detailed evaluation, your doctor can provide a specific diagnosis and outline the many treatment options available to you.


De Quervain’s tenosynovitis occurs when the tendon located under the base of the thumb in the wrist becomes irritated and inflamed. This problem may cause local swelling, tenderness, numbness, or tingling.

Exercise can help these tendons become more flexible and can also strengthen the supporting muscles of the hand or wrist. In addition to splints, mobility adjustments, and pain medication or injections, exercise can also play an important role in treating this condition.

VigorTip words

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis may seem like a small problem, but the condition can have far-reaching consequences. Swelling and inflammation of the thumb tendon can cause pain with even the slightest wrist movement and can significantly alter your daily function.

Fortunately, there are many useful treatments available. If you are dealing with symptoms associated with this diagnosis, be sure to discuss your condition with a healthcare provider. Taking this step can start you recovering from this stubborn problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can de Quervain’s tenosynovitis be cured?

    Symptoms associated with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis are usually curable. In most cases, activity modifications, anti-inflammatory medications or a combination of injections, splints, and exercise are effective in treating this condition.

  • How long does de Quervain tenosynovitis take to heal?

    De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can be a stubborn diagnosis. Most people experienced significant improvement in their symptoms after four to six weeks of treatment. After this time, the swelling in the area will usually subside and your overall hand function will improve.

  • What made de Quervain’s tenosynovitis worse?

    Repeated or vigorous hand and wrist movements tend to worsen the symptoms associated with DeQueven’s tenosynovitis. Grabbing or twisting tasks can be particularly annoying. Repeated twisting or squeezing can also cause deterioration.

  • What happens if you don’t treat de Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

    De Quervain’s tenosynovitis usually responds well to treatment. That said, if left untreated, this condition can lead to severe and permanent limitations in range of motion. It can also eventually cause the tendon sheath to rupture, significantly altering your hand and wrist function.