5 Fascinating Myths & Facts About Mommy Thumb

Blogs, / By Shi Qi Yap

Being a mother is a joyful experience, but it often comes with its fair share of challenges. One such challenge is the development of a condition known as “Mommy Thumb,” formally called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

In this blog post, we will debunk five common myths about Mommy Thumb and provide you with the facts, helping you gain a better understanding of this condition and how to address it effectively.

What is Mommy Thumb?

Mommy Thumb, or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the tendons that control movement of the thumb. It typically occurs due to repetitive thumb and wrist motions commonly seen in activities such as lifting babies, carrying car seats, or constantly picking up objects. The condition affects the tendons located at the base of the thumb, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty in gripping or pinching.

Myths and Facts about Mommy Thumb

  • Myth 1: Mommy Thumb only affects new mothers

    Fact: While Mommy Thumb is commonly associated with new mothers due to the physical demands of caring for a baby, it can affect anyone who engages in repetitive thumb and wrist motions. Individuals who perform activities such as gardening, sports, or repetitive work tasks are also at risk of developing this condition. The term “Mommy Thumb” highlights the prevalent occurrence among mothers but does not exclude others from experiencing it.

  • Myth 2: The Pain Will Only Occur In Your Thumb

    Fact: Mommy thumb is also sometimes called mommy wrist for a reason. The pain associated with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis affects the tendons in your thumb as well as the side of your wrist. Depending on the situation, the pain may be more severe in either the thumb or the wrist, but in most cases it will affect more than just your thumb. For this reason, the best splints to help the pain while your hand is in use are braces that will support both your wrist and thumb

  • Myth 3: Resting the Thumb is the Best Treatment for Mommy Thumb

    Fact: Resting the affected hand and avoiding repetitive motions can help alleviate the symptoms of Mommy Thumb. However, complete rest alone may not always be sufficient to resolve the condition entirely. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional who can provide a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. They may recommend additional measures such as splinting, physical therapy exercises, or other treatments to promote healing and prevent recurrence.

  • Myth 4: Mommy Thumb is a temporary condition that will go away on its own

    Fact: While some cases of Mommy Thumb may improve with rest and time, not all instances resolve spontaneously. If left untreated, the condition can worsen and lead to chronic pain or difficulty performing everyday tasks. Seeking early medical intervention and implementing appropriate treatment strategies can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery and prevent long-term complications.

  • Myth 5: Surgery is the only solution for Mommy Thumb.

    Fact: Surgery is generally considered a last resort for severe or persistent cases of Mommy Thumb that do not respond to conservative treatments. The majority of individuals can find relief through non-surgical approaches. These may include rest, ice therapy, pain management, thumb splints or braces, and physical therapy exercises. Corticosteroid injections may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Surgical intervention is typically reserved for cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief.

We have posted a short video about “Two ways to check if you have Mommy Thumb”! Watch and try it now!

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Yap Shi Qi
Rehab Therapist

Shi Qi graduated with Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons), awarded by Anglia Ruskin University, UK. Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP®). She practiced as a physiotherapist in a Malaysian private physiotherapy center with a special interest in musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation. Her previous experience inspired her to combine active approach along with patients’ education to optimize the rehabilitation outcome in sports-related injuries and postural pain.

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, singing, and playing piano.