Four Best Tips to Treat “Mommy Thumb” (De Quervain’s Syndrome) Yourself !

De Quervain’s Syndrome, also known as texting thumb, gamer’s thumb, radial styloid tenosynovitis or mommy thumb, is inflammation of the tendon sheath of Extensor Pollicis Brevis and Abductor Pollicis Longus located at the thumb side of your wrist.

De Quervain's Syndrome

 

There are more than 200,000 people in the U.S. suffered De Quervain’s Syndrome per year, new parents get this condition often because they lift their babies many dozens of times each day.

Lifting or holding your baby with your wide-open thumbs can easily lead to mommy thumb!

 

⭐ Signs and Symptoms

✨ Sudden or gradual pain over base of the thumb and thumb side of the wrist.

✨ Pain increases in wrist and thumb during forceful grasping and twisting.

✨ Numbness and weakness in the hand and thumb due to nerve irritation.

✨ Occasional catching or snapping when moving the thumb.

✨ Swelling and tenderness at base of the thumb.

 

? What can we do to make it better? ?

 

⭐ 1. Resting 

Remember, this is an inflammatory condition, you should STOP using your painful thumb for grasping, pinching, holding or lifting objects! Wrist twisting motion can also irritate the tendon sheath, you need to rest both your wrist and thumb for sooner recovery!

De Quervain's SyndromeDe Quervain's Syndrome

✨ Wrist brace can be helpful for resting, however make sure it covers your thumb as well! (The short version of this kind of brace is NOT for this condition!)

✨ Your hand therapist can also fabricate a thermoplastic orthotic to fully support your wrist and thumb.

✨ It is recommended to wear your brace or custom-made orthotics as much as possible (including sleeping time) to get the best result.

 

 2. Daily Activities Modification (Do’s and Don’ts)

✨ Never “Pinch” the object whenever your are carrying or holding it, always use both hands and relax your thumbs !

✨ Avoid holding, lifting or breastfeeding your baby with wide-open thumbs! 

✨ Try this way! (photo credit: WikiHow)

✨ How to wring a towel properly?

 

 3. Assistive Devices 

✨ Jar Opener and Dycem helps to prevent overusing your thumb! 

 

 4. Therapeutic Exercises – Stage I
Remember, only begin exercises when there is NO PAIN AT ALL!

 

✨ Place affected hand palm down on a flat surface. Use good hand to gently move thumb away from flat surface. Gently bring the thumb back to the flat surface.  (Repeat 5-10 times, 3x per day)

De Quervain's Syndrome

 

✨ Place affected hand on flat surface. With opposite hand move the affected thumb away from your fingers. Gently bring your thumb back.(Repeat 5-10 times 3x per day)

 

 

✨ Place forearm on flat surface with the wrist on edge. Gently lower the wrist toward the floor until you start to feel some stretch. Then use the opposite hand to return your wrist to the start position. (Repeat 5-10 times 3x per day)

 

 Therapeutic Exercises – Stage II

Once you can carry out Stage I exercise with no pain, increase repetitions to 10-20 and also begin these following exercises.

✨ Place the affected hand palm down on a flat surface. Keep the hand still and move the thumb out and away as tolerable then bring thumb back. (Repeat 10 times 3x per day)

 Therapeutic Exercises – Stage III

Only proceed to stage III when you are able to complete stage I & II exercises without having any pain!

✨ Rubber Band Exercise

Put elastic band around thumb and fingers. Then slowly move the thumb against the resistance of the band. (Repeat 10 times 3x per day)

De Quervain's Syndrome

 Summary

De Quervain’s Syndrome can be an annoying problem which largely affect your hand function. Don’t ignore your thumb pain! The early your start taking care of it, the better the result!

REST + ACTIVITY MODIFICATION + ASSISTIVE DEVICES +  EXERCISES =
HAPPY THUMBS !

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Tan, OTR/L, CHT, CKTP, CEAS
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Andrew Tan, OTR/L, CHT, CKTP, CEAS

The founder of "Rehab For A Better Life", specialized in ergonomic consultation, rehabilitation for upper extremity injuries, sports injuries and work-related injuries. Andrew believes rehab-related knowledge should be easy to learn and follow at home, because "knowledge is power only when we can share it" !