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De Quervain's Tenosynovitis (Mommy Thumb)


March 5, 2019

Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon M.D.

You know how there are a bunch of random conditions that come up during pregnancy and postpartum that no one talks about? I personally did not crave pickles once during either pregnancy, but how come no one warned me about the nosebleeds? Well, today we’re going to talk about another one of those random things that can happen after having a baby. It’s called De Quervain's tenosynovitis and not-so-lovingly referred to as "mommy thumb" or "baby wrist."

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is an overuse syndrome common to new moms that comes from holding your baby a lot, especially with your wrist in positions you’re not used to, for example, while breastfeeding. The symptoms are pain and swelling on your wrist near the base of your thumb. There aren’t a ton of studies on it, especially ones that focus on postpartum women, but one says that onset is 4-6 weeks after childbirth, and another says the average is 8 months postpartum. So that’s helpful.

The good news is that treating mommy thumb is pretty easy and effective. The treatments include anti-inflammatory medication and occupational therapy (including splinting, activity modification, modalities, manual treatment, and therapeutic exercise). In the rare cases that these aren’t effective, surgery is an option.

Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center. Recently, she founded a medical device start-up company that focuses on non-drug treatment for common maladies.

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