This handout explains the follow-up care after the surgery for the release of your de Quervain’s tendinitis. The splint is there for your protection and to stabilize the thumb. You may use your fingers for light activities, but please avoid any type of heavy gripping or lifting. We will coordinate with hand therapy to have a new, lighter, and removable splint made for you within 7-10 days following surgery. If the incision is red or if there is drainage coming out of it, please call us right away. The phone number is listed on the bottom of this page. Go to the emergency room if this occurs at a night or on a weekend.

Wound Care:

  • After surgery, you will wear a splint that supports your thumb and wrist. The splint helps protect the incision site and lessen the swelling. It will stay on until your follow-up visit with your doctor 10-14 days after surgery.
  • When bathing, cover the splint and your hand with a plastic bag to keep them dry.
  • Elevate your hand as much as possible each day during healing, to lessen the swelling and pain.
  • The incision is placed near the base of the thumb, and the nerves that supply the back of the thumb are moved during the surgery. It is normal for there to be some slight tingling or numbness along the course of the thumb.

Pain Management:

  • You will receive a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Take this with your medication as directed. It is important to “stay ahead” of your pain medication and avoid having to play “catch up” for significant increases in pain. Medication for nausea will also be provided. Please make sure to take this as directed.
  • Please make sure to check with the postoperative nurses and the office staff at Bellevue Bone & Joint Physicians about how to manage your pain medication. To best manage your pain, you must take the pain medication the way it was prescribed. Taking the correct dose at the right time is very important.
  • If you have uncomfortable side effects from the pain medication, please call us at 425-462-9800.
  • Please see “medications after surgery” information form for more instructions.
  • It is normal to have some pain off and on for approximately one year after surgery particularly in cold weather.


  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic medications, as it is not safe and against Washington state law. Taking narcotic medication can make you sleepy and delay your reaction time.
  • Once you are no longer taking narcotic medication, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands.


  • You can use your hand for daily activities such as getting dressed, typing, combing your hair, and other light activities.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than a soda can (about 1 pound or 0.45 kg) until your sutures have been removed.
  • Avoid heavy lifting such as weightlifting or carrying groceries with that hand until about four weeks after surgery.


  • Your sutures will be removed approximately 10-14 days after surgery.

  • We will remove the postoperative splint and place you into a removable brace for additional support as needed.
  • You will be referred to a hand therapist who will assess your progress. Your therapist will teach you activities to lessen the scarring around the incision and increase your hand strength and range of motion. Wear the splint for heavier activities for about three weeks after your sutures have been removed. You can increase your activities, but try to avoid heavy repetitive activities until four weeks after surgery.


Most patients who have de Quervain’s release surgery will regain full use of the hand, with full motion and full return of strength within four to six weeks after surgery.

Thomas E. Trumble, M.D.

*Figures courtesy of Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy by Thomas E. Trumble, MD, Ghazi M. Rayan, MD, Mark E. Baratz, MD and Jeffrey E. Budoff, MD