Once called Washer Woman’s Sprain, this painful inflammation of the thumb side of the wrist now bears the name of the Swiss surgeon, Fritz de Quervain, who wrote about this condition in 1895.
Passing over the back of the wrist are the tendons for muscles that extend or straighten the fingers and thumb, and lift the hand at the wrist. These tendons run through six lubricated tunnels (compartments) under a thick fibrous layer called the extensor retinaculum. (Fig. 1)
The first dorsal compartment lies over the bony bump at the base of the thumb (Fig. 2). Through it pass the tendons for the abductor pollicis longus (APL) and the extensor pollicis brevis (EPB) muscles. Both of these muscles help spread and extend the thumb away from the rest of the hand.