Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Before & after surgery for de Quervain's tenosynovitis


Seek help as soon as possible if you:

Your surgeon will see you before your operation. Please ask them any questions you have and tell them if you have any concerns about your operation.

You will need to sign a consent form.

Most people do not need any further tests before the operation. Please bring in any medicines you are taking, including any over-the-counter ones you have bought in a supermarket, pharmacy or online.

Stop smoking as early as possible. It makes the operation safer and will help you to heal better.

You can eat and drink as normal before surgery for de Quervain's tenosynovitis. Usually this surgery is done under local anaesthetic (which means you stay awake), but your surgeon will talk to you about this.

After the operation

Going home

If you are having day surgery, you need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You will also need to have someone at home with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.

You may need some extra help after the operation. For example, you will not be able to put full weight on your hand, so will not be able to use a walking stick or walker with that hand for around two weeks.

If you are worried about anything after your operation, contact your GP or the after-hours GP, or use the contact information you were given after your surgery.

Pain relief

Take two paracetamol (Panadol) every four to six hours. This is all most people need. If you need stronger pain relief, take one to two codeine phosphate 30 mg tablets as well. You can take codeine at the same time as you take paracetamol. But do not take more than eight paracetamol and eight codeine phosphate in any 24-hour period.

If you are a day patient, you will be given a small supply of paracetamol and codeine phosphate when you go home. If you are an in-patient, you will be given a prescription when you go home.


Keep your hand dry when showering by putting it in a plastic bag and taping the top of the bag securely to your skin. You will get specific advice about your dressing, bandaging, stitches and so on after your operation.

Exercise and activity

Your surgeon will check how well your hand is moving and show you some exercises. They may refer you to a hand therapist for more exercises, and to manage your scar.

It is important to gently open and close your fingers, move your wrist from side to side and move your thumb upwards and downwards across your palm after your surgery to help reduce swelling and stiffness. Start this as soon as you have had your surgery. You can use your hand for light tasks such as eating, dressing, or using a computer straight away. It will not do any harm. Light massage and taping over and about your scar, once the wound has healed, can reduce tenderness, sensitivity and thickening in the scar.

To reduce swelling and pain it is important to keep your hand raised (elevated) as much as possible for the first two to five days after surgery. Try to keep the affected hand or hands higher than your heart. It can help to put pillows and blankets under your arm when you go to sleep.

Some activities, such as opening jars or gripping objects, might be difficult for two to three days. You will need to avoid firm grasping, pinching and heavy lifting for two to three weeks. A soft support such as a splint may be useful in the short term. You may be off work for two to four weeks, depending on your job. Some people can go back to work after one week, while others cannot do heavier work for eight weeks or more. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.

Pain will limit what you can do for around six weeks. However, your hand should get better week by week. If you are concerned and not making progress, your surgeon may refer you to a hand therapist.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Plastic Surgery Department, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed April 2021.


Page reference: 331181

Review key: HIDQT-329615