De Quervain's tenosynovitis refers to inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, often caused by performing repetitive grasping or pinching movements. Symptoms include pain and swelling near the base of the thumb and difficultly moving your thumb and wrist. If you suffer from this condition, after resting the affected area until the pain subsides, performing specific stretching and strengthening exercises may help prevent recurrence. Consult with a physician, however, before starting an exercise program.
This exercise stretches and strengthens the muscles that act on the thumb during grasping or pinching tasks. Place your injured hand on your lap or on a table with your palm facing upward. Move your little finger and thumb together in front of your other fingers, hold for 6 seconds, then release and fan your fingers as wide as possible. Perform 10 total repetitions. Start with one set per day and progressively increase to five sets over five weeks' time, adding one set per week. Discontinue the exercise if the pain resumes.
Several muscles in the forearm cross the wrist joints, facilitating extension and flexion and radial- and ulnar-deviation, or side to side, ranges of motion. Stretching these muscles gently may help alleviate pain caused by De Quervain's tenosynovitis. Sit or stand and hold your injured hand in front of your chest with your arm fully extended and fingers pointed upward. Place the fingers of your opposite hand in front of the fingers of your injured hand and pull backward, stretching the muscles on the bottom of your forearm. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat the exercise with your fingers pointed downward to stretch the top of your forearm. Perform both exercises several times per day.
Strengthening the forearm muscles may also help relieve the symptoms associated with De Quervain's tenosynovitis. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit on your knees and rest your forearms on a padded bench with your wrists and hands extended over the opposite edge. Start with your palms facing the floor and repeatedly extend and flex your wrists. Next, turn your hands over so your palms face upward and do the same. Finally, hold the weights with your thumbs up, so your palms face each other, and repeatedly bend your wrists so your thumbs point toward your body--radial deviation--and then away from your body--ulnar deviation. Complete at least 10 repetitions of each exercise. If you don't have dumbbells, you can use a soda or vegetable can instead.