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Acupuncture and Natural Medicine for De Quervain's Syndrome
De Quervain's syndrome or de Quervain's tenosynovitis is a painful inflammation of tissue in the
wrist. Although its exact cause is not understood, it can be triggered
by repetitive motion of the thumbs such as typing, texting and playing
video games. As a result, it is sometimes referred to as Blackberry
Thumb or Gamers' Thumb.
While anyone can develop de Quervain's,
it affects women far more often it does men. It can be brought on by
inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
, as well as hormonal imbalances. In women it frequently occurs after pregnancy.
tendon that controls the thumb is housed inside a tunnel or sheath that
runs along the outside of the wrist. A thin, slippery membrane
separates the tendon from the walls of the tunnel enabling the tendon to
slide smoothly. De Quervain's is characterized by the inflammation of
this membrane. When it becomes thick and sticky the tendon can catch or
snag, causing an unpleasant and often painful snapping sensation when
the thumbs are moved.
Common treatments for de Quervain's include
a cessation of activities that aggravate the condition, the application
of a splint to immobilize the wrist, pharmaceuticals such as
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or cortico-steroid
injections to treat the pain and inflammation, and even surgery in some
None of these modalities, however, offers permanent relief from the
disease. Moreover, pharmaceuticals can produce significant, and
sometimes very serious side effects such as stomach bleeding, gastritis
, and kidney
damage. Surgery can cause scarring, and in rare cases a painful condition known as complex regional pain syndrome
when performed by a skilled practitioner, can effectively reduce
discomfort, pain and inflammation in the hand, wrist and arm caused by
repetitive motion disorders, with few if any side effects.
In addition to reducing the symptoms of pain and swelling, acupuncture
can also work on a systemic level to strengthen or modify the body's
immunological response to disease. This means that acupuncture may in
some cases help to prevent the recurrence of de Quervain's by reducing
the source, or trigger, of the inflammation.
"In my experience, de Quervain's syndrome typically responds well to
acupuncture treatment. Depending on the individual's occupational or
other risk factors, the condition may resolve completely or it may
require treatment on a regular schedule. In some cases, the condition
seems to have features of de Quervain's syndrome as well as carpal
tunnel syndrome. These cases have also responded well in my practice."
Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac.