Mommy Thumb: 5 Ways to Ease the Pain

Blog, Pregnancy, Wrist, / By Koh Peh Chia

For these couple of months. we have been treating a lot of new moms who come and complain of pain and swelling over their thumbs and wrist. This makes them frustrated as it affects them badly in performing daily tasks like carrying and lifting their babies. The mommy thumb or wrist is the nickname of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

What is de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis or mommy thumb is a condition in which the tendons from the thumb to the wrist become inflamed and rub against the “tunnel” that encloses them, causing sensations from mild discomfort to severe pain on the thumb side of the wrist. In most cases, the condition is not serious and can be easily treated.

Causes of Mommy Thumb

De Quervain’s tendonitis is a repetitive strain injury which is due to overuse of wrist and thumb. Some repetitive movements or activities can cause it to happen, like gardening, hairdressing, cooking, sports etc. 

The “mommy thumb” occurs when infants are lifted or breastfed with improper technique. Many mothers lift the babies by reaching down and placing their thumbs in their child’s armpits. This causes extra strain on the thumb and its tendons.

Symptoms of Mommy Thumb

The common symptoms of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis or mommy thumb are pain and swelling around the thumb. The pain may appear suddenly or may worsen over time, even spreading farther into the thumb and wrist, and up the forearm. The range of motion of thumb and wrist might get affected due to pain. Certain movements of thumb and wrist like. pinching, grasping, lifting and other movements can aggravate the pain too.

5 Ways to Ease the Pain

  1. The proper way to lift a child

Mommy thumb can be avoided by modifying your lifting technique. When picking up baby, do not use your thumb and fingers. Instead, place your hands on both sides of their rib cage and gently squeeze the child to lift. You may also place one hand under the child’s bottom and one behind their head to lift the child. 

2. Look out your breastfeeding position.

Improper breastfeeding positions could put strain on a mother’s wrist. Using a pillow for support is a safe way to prevent from over strain so that the full weight of baby’s head isn’t resting in your hand.

3. Apply ice or cold packs

take some rest and apply for 10-15 minutes to affected hand several times a day can help relieve discomfort.

4. Wearing a splint

Wearing a splint can support and immobilize the thumb and wrist. This is effective in helping to reduce swelling of the tendon and therefore easing discomfort.

5. Seek for professional help.

If the pain persists after trying a variety of self-treatment remedies, make an appointment with a hand specialist or orthopedic doctor or physiotherapist. Some stretching and strengthening exercises can be done to help the symptoms.  In some extreme and rare cases, surgery is necessary but it’s usually a permanent fix.

If you have any above issue, feel free to reach us! Check out our instagram page for useful exercises and updates.