CTD – De Quervain’s Disease

De Quervain’s Disease is a cumulative trauma disorder or musculoskeletal injury that can cause thumb pain. A splint may be required 24 hours a day for 4 to 6 weeks.

What is a CTD?

A Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) is an injury to the musculoskeletal system.

“During working years (ages 18 to 64) more people are disabled from musculoskeletal problems than from any other category of disorder.” (1)

Most musculoskeletal injuries develop gradually as a result of repeated micro-traumas.

De Quervain’s Disease:  

De Quervain’s Disease is an inflammation of the tendon sheath of the thumb; it affects the tendons on the side of the wrist and at the base of the thumb.  This condition may cause pain at the base of the thumb.

Tendons are rope-like structures that connect muscles to bones and transfer motion from the muscle to the bone.  Tendons can be torn like frayed rope or can be inflamed because of overuse causing pain.

“De Quervain’s Disease is named after the French physician who first described it.” (1)

The condition can occur gradually or suddenly;  and the pain may travel into the thumb or up the forearm.  

De Quervain’s Disease can be caused by:

  • overuse,
  • a direct blow to the thumb,
  • repetitive grasping; and
  • certain inflammatory conditions.  

“Combinations of hand twisting and forceful gripping, similar to a clothes-wringing movement, will place sufficient stress on the tendons to cause De Quervain’s disorders.” (2)

Women Affected More Than Men

This condition affects women eight to ten times more than men.  

What to do  

Medical evaluation is encouraged.  

Splint for Six Weeks

Treatment usually involves wearing a splint 24 hours a day for four to six weeks to immobilize the affected area and avoid movements that aggravate the symptoms.  

Analyze Job Requirements

Job requirements should be analyzed and recommendations provided.

Dictation Software May be Helpful

If you spend a lot of time using your thumbs while texting on Social Media, you may want to consider using the voice activation software on your phone.

  1. Cumulative trauma disorders, “A manual for musculoskeletal diseases of the upper limbs,” Edited by Vern Putz-Anderson;
  2. Lamphier, T.A., Crooker, C. and Crooker, J.L., 1965, De Quervain’s Disease.  Ind. Med. and Surg., 34 847-856