De Quervain's disease

Can symptoms of de Quervain's disease recur after being treated with surgery?

Recurrence of symptoms of de Quervain's disease after surgical treatment has been reported. One possible explanation when surgery does not result in a decrease of symptoms is that the initial diagnosis was incorrect. Another possible explanation is that there may have been incomplete release (continued entrapment) during surgery. Failure to recognize and release an additional compartment (most commonly of the extensor pollicis brevis tendon, or EPB) can lead to persistent pain from the EPB remaining entrapped. If repeat cortisone injections do not relieve symptoms, careful surgical re-exploration may allow a previously overlooked tendon to be released.

We are not aware of published reports specifically describing recurrence several years after surgery. However, this does not mean that such cases do not exist. Most series have been unable to identify risk factors for long-term complications.

For information about the long-term outlook associated with de Quervain's disease and possible complications of surgery, read our information about prognosis.

People with persistent or recurring symptoms of de Quervain's disease are encouraged to speak with their medical provider.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with de Quervain's disease?

De Quervain's disease does not affect the lifespan. If the condition is not treated, there may be progressive pain, difficulty using the hand and wrist properly, and/or limited range of wrist motion. Most patients respond very well to nonsurgical treatment. Some people who have been successfully treated with injections may have recurrent symptoms when they return to lifting infants. Relief is usually permanent after successful surgery.

Complications from surgery, or after surgery, are possible. Potential complications may include:

  • Superficial radial nerve injury from sharp injury, traction injury, or adhesions in the scar. This may greatly limit hand and wrist function.
  • Persistent entrapment symptoms. This may happen if parts of one tendon (called slips) are mistaken for other tendons. This may result in continued entrapment. If repeat cortisone injections do not relieve symptoms, surgical re-exploration may allow a previously overlooked tendon to be released.
  • Subluxation (misalignment or dislocation) of released tendons is possible.

Additional reported complications include scar hypertrophy or tenderness (particularly with longitudinal incisions), reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and continued pain as a result of incorrect diagnosis. Associated diagnoses that may have been missed include basilar arthritis of the thumb, instability of the thumb, intersection syndrome, and radial neuritis. Wartenburg's syndrome (ie, superficial radial neuritis) has been shown to negatively affect surgical outcome for de Quervain's disease.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA, 95677-0850 , United States
Phone: 916-632-0922 Toll Free: 800-533-3231 Fax : 916-652-8190 Email: Url:
Name: Arthritis Foundation 1355 Peachtree St. NE 6th Floor
Atlanta, GA, 30309, United States
Phone: +1-404-872-7100 Toll Free: 1-844-571-HELP (4357) Url:

Connect with other users with De Quervain's disease on the RareGuru app

Do you have information about a disease, disorder, or syndrome? Want to suggest a symptom?
Please send suggestions to RareGuru!

The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

People Using the App

Join the RareGuru Community

To connect, share, empower and heal today.

People Using the App