It is important to note that treating De Quervain's syndrome, also known as gamer's thumb, at home or without the direction of a doctor is possible, however, severe or chronic De Quervain's syndrome should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider since, if left untreated, De Quervain's syndrome can result in permanent injury and a loss of your range of motion and grip strength.
Treating De Quervain's syndrome should begin when symptoms first appear and continue as long as the symptoms persist or the cause is still relevant. Treatment should be done leading up towards a doctor's appointment or during your data gathering activities while trying to determine the cause of your De Quervain's syndrome. Treatments and their effectiveness should be noted within this data.
The first step in treating De Quervain's syndrome at home is taking care of your general health. Chronic inflammation affects a lot of people and can contribute to or hamper your recovery from most repetitive stress injuries, including De Quervain's syndrome.
To make your De Quervain's syndrome treatments the as effective as they can be you should be in good health and at a healthy body weight. Being overweight contributes to chronic inflammation and affects your circulation as well. And without good circulation, your body can't repair itself effectively. So maintaining a good circulatory system through cardiovascular exercise helps.
Staying hydrated is important as well. A good rule of thumb to stay hydrated is to take your weight in pounds, slide the decimal to the left so you lose the one's column, and drink that many ounces of water. If you weigh 250 pounds then you should drink at least 25 ounces of water a day.
The best way to treat your De Quervain's syndrome at home is to identify what activities are causing the repetitive stress and avoid doing them while allowing your wrist and thumb ample time to rest and heal. Being able to take a couple weeks off and not use your hand for much is almost always impossible. So at least try to reduce the length of time, the number of repetitions or strength required to perform the tasks causing the repetitive stress. If at all possible avoid repetitive motions of any type with the hand and wrist.
One of the most effective treatments for any inflammation, like De Quervain's syndrome, is using ice. Ice reduces swelling and relieves pain. Use an ice pack regularly to reduce your inflammation following a 15 minute on - 15 minute off pattern. A cool pack, one that isn't as cold as frozen ice, can be kept on longer. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation on these items.
Over the Counter Medication
The inflammation associated with De Quervain's syndrome can be reduced with the use of over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. They are also effective at managing pain.
Liniments and pain relieving balms can help temporarily relieve your pain, but often do not reduce the inflammation.
Whether you use a pill or a topical pain reliever it is important to remember that they are simply masking your pain. The problem is still there and if you continue to stress the area while the pain is masked you can further injure yourself.
When treating De Quervain's syndrome at home you may want to consider wearing a splint to immobilize the wrist and thumb that is being afflicted. A splint will completely immobilize your thumb and/or wrist allowing it to heal without further stressing the area.
If complete immobilization is not practical then stabilization may help. To stabilize the wrist and thumb for De Quervain's syndrome a brace or compression wrap is used to support the wrist and thumb, especially when gripping. This provides more support to the area reducing some of the stress and range of motion you would normally receive. But it does not impede you from all repetitive stress or further injuring yourself.
Physical therapy is a vital part of treating and recovering from De Quervain's syndrome. A doctor or physical therapist can provide you with an exercise regiment to help your particular condition and instruct you in the proper execution of those exercises. A couple of easy stretches can be performed on your own, however. These stretches should only be done a couple of times a day and you should not experience any pain when doing them. If they are hurting it may be time to see a doctor for your De Quervain's syndrome.
Stretching the muscle between the thumb and the palm is a good exercise. The inflammation and irritation of the tendons in De Quervain's syndrome often destabilize the base of the thumb. It becomes weak and difficult to properly use. You can help relieve the stress at the base thumb joint by stretching and massaging the muscles and tissues that hold it in place.
To perform this stretch grab your afflicted thumb with your other hand and pull the thumb away from your palm. Hold the stretch for ten to fifteen seconds and then release. Let the sensation die down completely before stretching again. Perform this stretch with the hands below the level of your heart for better circulation during the stretch. Massaging the web of muscle and tissue between the thumb and palm is beneficial as well.
Next stretch the tendons that control the thumb and pass through the wrist, the ones causing the problem. Hold your hand in a relaxed fist and flex your wrist downward much like in Finkelstein's test. Don't flex your wrist to the point of pain, however. Just give it a relaxing stretch for ten to fifteen seconds and then release.
These stretches should be done once or twice a day and no more. The area has very small muscles that can easily be overworked. If you strain those muscles and your thumb starts hurting give it a day or two before you begin stretching again. The stretching will have a cumulative relaxing effect on your De Quervain's syndrome over the course of a couple of weeks.
It is important to note that you should not stretch any part of your body when it is cold. So do not stretch your thumb after icing it or when under the effects of a pain reliever since it is easy to overstretch things in those cases.