It is most common in women in their 30s to 50s. DQD has a prevalence of 0.5% in men and 1.3% in women. One way you will know you have symptoms of DQD is through a test where you put your thumb under the rest of your fingers into a fist and move your wrist so you are stretching your thumb. If this immediately causes pain, you might have DQD.
What can I do about it?
A physical therapist or orthopedic specialist can diagnose DQD clinically with a few tests to get you the proper care.
For new moms who are experiencing pain with lifting their infant, changing the way you lift the baby (perhaps cinderella style instead of under the armpits) can resolve symptoms automatically. Avoiding painful activities is a must to allow the tendons to heal. Your physician might suggest that you take anti-inflammatory medication or receive corticosteroid injections as a treatment option to alleviate pain early on.
If you feel pain, it’s important for your wrist to be in a relatively “neutral” alignment when possible. This means, if you look at your palm, your middle finger is basically aligned with the length of your forearm. Splinting might be an option for you to prevent your wrist and thumb from going into painful positions. However, you want to make sure you don’t immobilize the wrist for long periods to avoid muscle atrophy.
Manual Therapy and Exercise
A PT or an occupational therapist (OT) can do soft tissue manipulation to release tight muscles, drain fluid build up, and desensitize painful areas. If you have had a surgical release of the tendon sheath to decompress pressure, you will also receive manual therapy post-operative to manage the scar tissue. Your PT will prescribe you pain-free exercises and stretches to start the healing process.
If your pain is from working at a desk and typing, an ergonomic check is necessary to set you up with adaptive equipment that doesn’t put as much strain on your wrist and thumb. If your pain is only on one wrist, then I suggest switching to the pain-free side when possible with certain activities, like lifting a gallon of milk.
Pain at the wrist and thumb can be frustrating when you need to use them throughout the day for all sorts of activities. However, it’s important to receive the proper care without brushing off the pain. By addressing DQD early on with conservative care, you can prevent further degeneration of your tendons and the expensive surgeries, injections, and medications that come along with it. As with all injuries, use your pain as a guideline! If it hurts, stop and see a specialist.