Can I Workout with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

You can still workout with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, but you must be careful. Here are some tips on how to stay safe while working out with this condition.


De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tendons throughout the thumb that leads to pain and discomfort when you extend, press on, or rotate your thumb. This condition affects two tendons in your wrist: the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus. It is usually caused by repetitive activities that put a strain on these tendons. The tendon sheaths around them become irritated and inflamed, leading to swelling in the soft tissues of your thumb area and causing you to experience severe pain with any activity using your wrist or hand. Understanding this condition can help you understand if it is safe for you to exercise while living with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis?

What is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the two tendons that control the thumb in your wrist. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty with movement of the thumb. It is important to understand the cause of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis in order to determine the best way to treat it. In this article, we will discuss what it is, the causes, and how to work out with it.


De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a type of tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) that affects the two tendons located at the base of the thumb. It typically affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50, and women are more likely to be affected than men. Symptoms include pain along the thumb side of your wrist when you move it, swelling along this area, difficulty gripping objects with your thumb and forefinger, and a “catching” sensation when you use your thumb for activities such as writing or opening doors. The exact cause of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is not known, but it is thought to be caused by repetitive strain or unsupported movements while using your hand. Treatment may include rest, splinting or taping your thumb in place to reduce swelling, use of anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy exercises to improve strength and flexibility.


De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, also called stenosing tenosynovitis, is an inflammatory condition that causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist. It occurs when the two tendons that control movement of the thumb become irritated or constricted in their protective sheath, causing them to swell and thicken. This can result in difficulty moving the thumb and pain at the base of the thumb and lower forearm when making a fist or grasping anything.

Potential causes of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis include:
-Repetitive motions: Gripping, pinching or twisting movements done repeatedly can cause aggravation to these tendons and lead to injury over time.
-Injury to wrist: When sudden trauma occurs (such as a direct impact or fall) it can cause inflammation around these two tendons, leading to pain and swelling in the affected area.
-Age related changes: As we age, our body’s tissues naturally break down over time leading to increased risk for developing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.
-Arthritis: Inflammatory joint conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can lead to injury of these tendons due to damage caused by chronic inflammation within joints.

Exercise and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a condition of the thumb and wrist, characterized by pain, swelling, and difficulty gripping objects, which can limit your physical activity. If you suffer from De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, it is important to understand which exercises are safe and beneficial and which to avoid so you can keep your condition under control. Let’s look at some of the best exercises to consider and when it’s best to avoid them.

Types of Exercises to Avoid

People suffering from De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (DT) are often advised to avoid or reduce activities that involve strong gripping, forceful pinching and repetitive movements of the wrist. To determine which exercises to avoid, it is important to understand which movements cause pain. These include:

-Wrist curls and extensions with added weight, such as those used in weightlifting and strength training
-Gripping motions while throwing a ball or playing racket sports such as tennis and racquetball
-Continuous gripping of items including weights, machines, belts or ropes
-Reaching around objects while pushing or turning
-Continuous action sports such as swimming laps or running track
-Stretching exercises which require active participation by squeezing the fingers together into a fist

Before beginning any exercise regimen, it is important to speak to your medical provider. A physical therapist can provide guidance on how to safely perform exercises without adding strain to the injured tendon sheath area. They may also provide support through positive reinforcement when managing DT flare ups during exercise. Additionally, acupressure treatments may help ease pain and tension in affected areas if done before physical activity begins with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis sufferers.

Types of Exercises to Do

Exercising with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis should be done carefully to prevent flare-ups of pain and inflammation. People dealing with this condition can do exercises that target the muscles and tendons surrounding the injured thumb or wrist to help build strength and stability. Low-impact exercises like yoga, swimming, cycling, or walking are preferable to weightlifting or sports involving twisting of the wrist or hand.

For those with very mild symptoms, light stretching can be helpful to reduce stiffness and improve range of motion around the thumb joint. Other exercises such as grip strengthening (using a rubber ball) can also provide pain relief and may help improve flexibility. In addition, core training helps reduce strain on the shoulder joint which in turn can help minimize wrist pain when lifting weights. This is important for people who are trying to rebuild strength in their hands after an injury.

Finally, it is important for people with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis to avoid any activities that cause soreness or strain in the thumb area including typing on a computer keyboard or holding onto heavy objects with a tight grip for extended periods of time. Ice application before exercising may also provide some additional relief from symptoms associated with this condition. Ultimately, listening to your body’s needs is paramount when deciding which exercises are appropriate in managing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.

If you have been diagnosed with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, it is important to continue physical activity in order to promote healing. Working out with this condition can be done with some adaptations and guidance from a physical therapist. Depending on your individual condition, the following types of exercises are typically recommended:

* Stretching: Stretching the muscles and tendons of your wrist can help improve range of motion and flexibility, decrease swelling, prevent stiffness in your wrist and ease pain associated with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Certain stretches may need to be done multiple times throughout the day for 10-15 seconds at a time.

* Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles around your wrist will help support joint movement and reduce stress during physical activity. These exercises should focus on rotational mechanics by using soft balls or resistance bands depending on your comfort level.

* Aerobic Activity: Low impact aerobic activities such as walking or cycling can provide a great way to stay active while avoiding further irritation in the tendon sheaths of your thumb. When cycling or walking ensure that you are using an ergonomic grip for less discomfort.

It is important to note that exercises need to be completed within pain-free limits in order for them to truly be beneficial and effective in managing De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis symptoms. Before starting any workout regimen speak with your physician or physical therapist about the best possible exercise program for you depending on the severity of your condition, age, and overall health status.

Treatment Options

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a condition that affects the tendons in the wrist and thumb, causing pain at the base of the thumb. It can be caused by overuse from activities such as typing, lifting, and repetitive motions. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, ranging from rest and relaxation to physical therapy and even surgery. In this section, we will discuss the various treatment options and how to find the right option for you.


Medication is often used to reduce the inflammation surrounding tendons of the thumb and wrist. These medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which work by reducing inflammation, pain, swelling and tenderness. Steroid injections can also be beneficial in controlling symptoms and are used when more conservative treatments have not provided relief. Splinting is another nonsurgical treatment option often prescribed to help provide support to the affected tendons while they rest and heal. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to develop an exercise regimen that will stretch and strengthen the affected area. Exercises should gradually increase in intensity over time as tolerated. Depending on your condition, modified exercises such as those in water can help improve range of motion while relieving the pressure on affected wrist tendons.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a safe and effective choice for the treatment of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. It focuses on restoring range of motion in the thumb, wrist, and forearm, as well as strengthening and stretching muscles to reduce pain. If you are suffering from this condition, it’s important to work carefully with a physical therapist who understands how tension in the joints can cause pain. They can also recommend exercises that you can do at home to help alleviate symptoms. Examples of physical therapy treatments can include:

-Joint mobilization – Gentle movements are used to increase blood flow in and around the area, reduce swelling, and help the area become more flexible.
-Stretching – A series of gentle stretches held for a short period of time increases flexibility in your thumb joint
-Tension reduction – Techniques like myofascial release or Active Release Technique (ART) can be used to relax tight muscles that contribute to De Quervain’s symptoms.
-Strengthening – Your physical therapist will likely suggest progressing from stretching exercises into strengthening your thumb/forearm muscles with exercises like resistance bands or flexion/extension motions with free weights or exercise balls (depending on your strength level).
-Ergonomic adjustments – By adjusting parts of your workstation such as keyboard height, position of mouse pad etc.,you can reduce overall stress on your hands while performing computer functions


Surgery is a possible treatment option for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. This minimally invasive procedure is known as a release or debridement. During the surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in the skin near the affected tendon and make enough of an opening to allow them to better see and directly access the affected tendon sheath. Using an ultrasound they insert an instrument into the sheath, allowing them to perform a percutaneous endoscopy, surgically cutting away tissue or other obstructions that are causing pain or discomfort in your wrist. Following this procedure, you will likely have some temporary stiffness, pins and needles sensation due to inflammation of the area, but this should resolve in time with rest and proper care. Your healthcare provider may also recommend physical therapy after surgery for rehabilitation purposes.


When it comes to deciding whether or not you can safely workout with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, there is no easy answer. The most important factor in making this decision lies in understanding your body and your individual symptoms. Before performing any type of exercise, it is important to consult with a health care professional, who can provide individualized advice and guidance. Furthermore, once a decision is made about exercising with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it’s important to pay close attention to your body as you exercise and stop if any pain or discomfort occurs. While appropriate intensity levels of exercise can bring relief and improvement of symptoms in De Quervain’s tenosynovitis sufferers, inappropriate levels may worsen the condition. By working slowly and cautiously while monitoring the level of improvement (or using other symptom reduction methods when necessary), those with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis may be able to benefit from regular and appropriate exercise for improved symptom management.

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