Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


What is the "snuff box" in the wrist? The doctor says I have a tendonitis of this box.


Let's start with snuff box. Snuff is tobacco in fine powder form. It's inhaled through the nostril. Snuff is kept in a small snuffbox. It should hold just enough snuff for a day's use. The user takes just a pinch or a dip each time.

In the wrist, at the base of the thumb is the anatomical snuffbox. When you pull your thumb up as if to hitch a ride, you'll see a ridge of tendon. In fact there are two tendons: the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus. When these tendons contract a small hole or indentation is formed between them. This is the anatomical snuffbox. It's just about the right size to hold a pinch of snuff.

These two tendons share a common covering or sheath. Friction between these tendons and their common sheath from repeated forceful use of the hands can cause tendonitis.

Yukio Abe, MD, PhD, et al. Extensor Pollicis Longus Tenosynovitis Mimicking de Quervain's Disease Because of Its Course Through the First Extensor Compartment: A Report of 2 Cases. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. March 2004. Vol. 29A. No. 2. Pp. 225-229.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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