Mummy Thumb - De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

I was inspired to write this blog after I had a number of new mums in the Core and Pelvic Floor Postnatal Exercise Program experiencing sore wrists.  

Mummy thumb, or De Quervains Tenosynovitis mainly affects two tendons; the abductor pollicis longus, or long thumb abductor, and the extensor pollicis brevis, or short thumb extensor. The tendons come into play when the thumb is moved in a different plane from the hand; when placing hands flat on a table and lifting the thumb toward the ceiling.

Just for a moment, imagine the various movements mums perform, under load (load being - holding her new baby), multiple times throughout the day.  Holding to breastfeed or bottle-feed, lifting into a cot, capsule, pram, bathing, yes the list goes on! Then there's all the extra washing and cleaning that comes with a baby.  And if you're having a good day, who knows you might even find a moment to wax your legs and wash your hair, at lightning speed of course!  

 New Borns, they are just adorable.

New Borns, they are just adorable.

All of these normal daily movements are unavoidable for a mum.  When pain; such as sharp, shooting pain, starting at the thumb, through the wrist and darting up the forearm is experienced it shouldn't be ignored.  

Many mothers experience De Quervain's, and if you are one of those mums experiencing any discomfort jump on it early, this condition responds remarkably better if treated in the early stages.  

Yes I am nagging... but please, don't let it go hoping it'll just get better, book an appointment with a physiotherapist who specialises in wrist and hands.  

Tips For Mums With De Quervain's

  • Use a "support" technique  pillow under your the baby's head while nursing so the weight of the baby is not resting solely on your hand and straining her thumb.
  • Try to use a "scooping" technique to lift the baby out of the cot, pram bath capsule and off the floor.  By placing the weight in the palms or on the forearms, it avoids putting the thumb out of alignment to the rest of the hand and stressing the tendons.
 Peninsula Hand Therapy; demonstrating correct lift, feed and bathing baby techniques. 

Peninsula Hand Therapy; demonstrating correct lift, feed and bathing baby techniques. 

  • Have a custom splint made to suit your hand.  They fit better and therefore support the hand and thumb better than the 'off the shelf' splints, plus they can be use in water such as when bathing your baby or showering.  See Ian Dowley, the director and senior physiotherapist at Perth based Flex Physiotherapy, St John of God Hospital, Murdoch.
  • Avoid aggravating movements and look to find alternative ways to move. 

Check out the video below with Markika Hart of Herasphere and Ian Dowley covering the fitting of a custom splint.  

I'm saying it again... if you're experiencing any thumb or wrist pain, don't ignore it.  Book an appointment with a physiotherapist who specialises in wrist and hands before it becomes a bigger concern.