Though the name sounds exotic, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis—a condition caused by constriction or pinching of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb—can arise from such simple tasks as lifting a laundry basket, putting away groceries, swinging a golf club or tennis racket, or even lifting babies. The condition is named after the Swiss surgeon who first identified it. The constriction can lead to swelling and pain that makes daily activities difficult.
Noting that de Quervain’s is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50, J. Grant Thomson, MD, director of Yale Medicine’s Hand & Microsurgery Program, says he sees it most often in women, but usually cannot identify a specific cause. “The condition may be associated with repetitive stress, pregnancy, or rheumatoid arthritis, but often just appears for no apparent reason” he says.