Best 5 Exercises for De Quervain Tenosynovitis

De Quervain Tenosynovitis, also known as De Quervain's disease, is a painful condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. This condition occurs when the tendons that control the movement of the thumb become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. If left untreated, De Quervain Tenosynovitis can lead to long-term damage to the tendons and joints, and significantly impact a person's quality of life.


The symptoms of De Quervain Tenosynovitis typically include pain and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist. The pain may radiate up the forearm or into the thumb, and may be accompanied by a snapping or catching sensation when moving the thumb or wrist. In severe cases, the condition can make it difficult to grasp objects or perform everyday tasks such as buttoning clothing or using utensils.


The causes of De Quervain tenosynovitis can vary. It is commonly seen in people who perform repetitive motions with their hands and wrists, such as typing or playing musical instruments. It is also more common in women, especially during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Other potential causes include trauma to the wrist, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

How do we Treat De Quervain’s at Surrey Physio?

Through a process of shared decision making, we typically offer two routes:

  1. Steroid injection with one of our injecting physios.
  2. Therapy

Let’s look at the steroid injection. It can be very effective! Its affordable (£140.00 including the consultation at the time of writing this article, prices are subject to change so check the price page), and it reduces inflammation. Is it a good option, yes. But you must rest for at least two weeks post-injection and even after that, nurse your wrist to prevent symptoms coming back. For example, if you are a keen tennis player and have De Quervain’s, having an injection usually helps, but if you start playing tennis again and putting the wrist tendons through the same stresses, of course the pain could come back. Steroid injections don’t work 100% of the time, but they often help.

Therapy is the best option if you are not in a rush. We use massage, ultrasound, acupuncture and shockwave to treat it. The treatment can work well, but it takes time. It’s the least invasive route, and it does work. But it can take weeks or months to get better through the treatment/therapy option. Physiotherapy costs £45 per session at the time of writing this article.


Management of De Quervain Tenosynovitis usually involves a combination of treatments, such as protection, ice, bracing, and optimal loading of the affected wrist. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, a corticosteroid injection may be administered to reduce inflammation and pain.

While there are several treatment options available for De Quervain tenosynovitis, physiotherapy is an important aspect of managing the condition. Physiotherapy can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and strengthen the affected muscles and tendons.

At Surrey Physio, our team of experienced physiotherapists can work with you to develop a personalised treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. We offer a range of physiotherapy techniques and modalities, including manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and electrotherapy.

Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques to mobilise and manipulate the affected joints and soft tissues. This can help to improve joint mobility, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote healing.

Therapeutic exercises are an important component of physiotherapy for De Quervain tenosynovitis. These exercises are designed to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected area.

Once a diagnosis is made, a physiotherapist we will work with the patient to develop a personalised treatment plan. This may include exercises to improve strength and flexibility in the wrist and thumb, as well as manual therapy techniques such as massage or joint mobilisation. Patients may also be instructed on techniques to modify their daily activities to reduce strain on the affected area.

At Surrey Physio, our team of experienced physiotherapists can provide effective treatment for De Quervain tenosynovitis. We use a multidisciplinary approach to care, which may include a combination of physiotherapy, osteopathy, and massage therapy. Our goal is to help patients achieve long-lasting pain relief and improved function in the affected area.

In the meantime, please try these exercises; we think they could help you if you have symptoms of De Quervain tenosynovitis:

How to apply ice to your fingers and thumb

Place an ice bag or pack of frozen peas over your injured fingers or point of most swelling. This will help reduce swelling and pain. Hold in place for 10 minutes.

Thumb massage exercise

With your injured palm downwards, massage the space between your thumb and index finger with your other hand. This will help give you pain relief. Do this for two minutes per day.

Senior Exercises | Hand Therapy | Thumb and Finger Band Strengthening

Wrap an elastic band around your fingers and thumb. Pull your fingers and thumb apart from each other, against the resistance of the band. This exercise will help strengthen your joints. Repeat ten reps, three times.

Abductor pollicis brevis exercise

Place your hand in front of you, and cut a thin strip of exercise band. Tie the band around your thumb and hold the opposite end with your other hand. Move your thumb away from your fingers to abduct the thumb. The band will provide resistance to strengthen the abductor pollicis longus. Repeat ten reps, three times.

Ulnar deviation dumbbell

Hold a dumbbell with your arm outstretched in front of you, and deviate your wrist to the side of your little finger. This is a strengthening exercise for the wrist, forearm and elbow. Repeat eight to ten reps, three times.

In conclusion, De Quervain tenosynovitis a common repetitive strain injury that can have an impact on an individual's quality of life. While treatment options vary depending on the severity of the injury and other factors, physiotherapy is an essential component of the recovery process.

At Surrey Physio, we are committed to helping patients recover from De Quervain tenosynovitis and other musculoskeletal conditions, using the latest evidence-based techniques and personalised treatment plans. If you or a loved one has experienced De Quervain tenosynovitis, don't hesitate to contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you get back to your best.

(Therapists, osteopaths, sports therapists, chiropractors reading this page… if you love the exercises here, then please check out the amazing exercise prescription tool You can sign up for a free 14-day trial, and it’s affordable to buy, with pricing starting from £11.23 per month.

If you are a patient, in pain, or elite sport, please call us to discuss your case further. Surrey Physio have an amazing team of therapists to help you recover from pain, but also to achieve top performance. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or click the link at the top to book online.)