De Quervain Syndrome


De Quervain’s tendonitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the abductor long and extensor short tendons of the thumb as they pass through the first extensor canal.

Known as many names, including ‘radial styloid tenosynovitis’ and ‘Blackberry thumb’ (due to it being caused by the overuse of the once popular smartphone), this condition is characterised by inflammation of two tendons that control movement of the thumb and their tendon sheath. This results in pain at the outside of the wrist. Pain is typically increased with gripping or rotating the wrist. The thumb may also be difficult to move smoothly. Onset of symptoms is gradual.

Treatment types

A mixture of phototherapy, ultrasound and magnetotherapy complemented by TENS, if desired.

Method of action


Ultrasound treatment increases the ‘stretchiness’ of muscles and tendons that may be tight. This form of therapy helps to build new tissue and ensure the proper alignment of the tissue fibres so that full strength and flexibility can be restored. In the case of a chronic illness, ultrasound can slow the development and help to manage symptoms.

Ultrasound therapy can:

  • Provide an analgesic effect.
  • Improve blood flow and restore normal cell activity to produce an anti-swelling effect.

Phototherapy — red light

Mitochondria within the skin cells are able to absorb red light particles. This can help the cells produce more adenosine triphosphate (the energy source of all cells).

Red light therapy helps to:

  • Increase fibroblast production which, in turn, produces collagen and other tissue fibres.
  • Reduce inflammation in the cells — both at the area of use and throughout the system.
  • Treat pain from musculoskeletal conditions.


Magnetotherapy offers an anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling effect on top of its ability to reduce pain and improve blood circulation.


The electrical impulses reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain by temporarily ‘switching off’ the nerve endings of the affected area — thus, helping to relieve pain and relax the muscles. These impulses also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.