De Quervain's tendinitis is a form of tendinitis that causes wrist pain on the thumb-side of the wrist. It typically develops in people who engage in repeated, strenuous activities that involve bending the wrist and fingers. The most effective cure for this form of tendinitis is surgery, which is usually minimally invasive. As with any surgery, patients should always take the advice of a physician when it comes to recovering properly, but these steps are common precautions for those who are recovering from this procedure.
Do not remove the bandages and supports placed on your wrist and hand following surgery unless directed to do otherwise by a physician. Typically, patients recovering from this surgery will be sent home the same day with a few stitches in the incision site, a bandage around the wrist, a splint on the thumb and, sometimes, a wrist brace. Though your physician can advise you on how flexible you can be with these materials, it is generally a good idea to keep them on at least until you return to the hospital to have the stitches taken out.
Avoid using the affected hand for at least the first two weeks. Try to arrange for help doing activities that require both hands, and do your best to learn to do more with your uninjured hand. Your physician or physical therapist will be able to offer customised advice on how to cope with the loss of use of your hand for this important healing period.
Keep your bandages clean and dry. If your bandages or supports should become damaged or lost, consult your physician immediately.
Manage pain with either over-the-counter pain and anti-inflamatory medication or other medication as prescribed by your doctor. If using over-the-counter medication, consult your doctor first to make sure it is appropriate. The area may be tender for several weeks, so you may need to continue to use pain medication even after the stitches, bandages and supports have been removed.
Take a few minutes every few hours to raise your affected hand over your head during the first two weeks of recovery. This will help encourage blood circulation through your hand and fingers when it's most difficult to move them.
Arrange for physical therapy when your physician indicates it is time to begin strengthening your hand and wrist. It is typical for physicians to initiate this conversation and help their patients choose the appropriate physical therapist.
Perform any and all exercises as prescribed by your physical therapist. Physical therapy for this form of tendinitis typically involves both in-office visits with a trained professional and at-home exercises that you do by yourself.
Squeeze a lump of clay or putty with your recovering hand to help rebuild strength and dexterity after surgery. This may be a prescribed exercise from your physical therapist, but if you're not specifically instructed to do it, ask your physical therapist or physician if it would be helpful in your case. It is important to wait until your hand and wrist are healed and healthy enough before engaging in this.
Continue going to follow-up appointments with your physician and physical therapist until you have made a full recovery. Depending on the extent of your initial injury, the type of surgery performed and whether or not there were any complications with the surgery, the entire recovery process can last anywhere from two weeks to six months. Only your direct caretakers will be able to assess your recovery.
- Tendon and Ligament Healing: A New Approach to Sports and Overuse Injury, William Weintraub, 2003