De Quervain's release is to give the tendons more space so they no longer rub on the inside of the tunnel. To do this, the surgeon performs a surgical release of the roof of the tunnel. It can be done using a general anaesthetic, which puts you to sleep, or a regional anaesthetic. A regional anaesthetic blocks the nerves going to only a certain part of the body. Injection of medications similar to novocaine can block the nerves for several hours.
The first step in the surgical release is to make a small incision along the thumb side of the wrist. The surgeon moves aside other tissues and locates the tendons and the tunnel. An incision is made to split the roof, or top, of the tunnel. This allows the tunnel to open up, creating more space for the tendons. The tunnel will eventually heal closed, but it will be larger than before. Scar tissue will fill the gap where the tunnel was cut. The wound is closed with subcuticular stiches.
You will be put into a POP splint which will be removed by the outpatient nurses five days post operation. When the stitches are removed, you may start carefully strengthening your hand and thumb.
You may need to see a hand therapist and begin doing active hand movements and range-of-motion exercises. Physiotherapists also use ice packs, soft-tissue massage, and hands-on stretching to help with the range of motion. They also use a series of gentle stretches to encourage the thumb tendons to glide easily within tunnel. As you progress, your hand therapist will give you exercises to help strengthen and stabilise the muscles and joints in the hand and thumb. Before your physiotherapy sessions end, your hand therapist will teach you a number of ways to avoid future problems.