416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Are You Struggling With Mommy Thumb – De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 7 December 2022, PregnancyWrist Injuries

Many mums experience pain in their thumbs and wrists during pregnancy and during the weeks following their child’s birth. This condition is known as ‘mommy thumb’. This is a painful condition causing inflammation of the tendons of the thumb and wrist. It is medically known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Daily tasks such as lifting your baby in and out of car seats, onto change tables, in and out of cots, and breastfeeding, can all prove quite painful when suffering from this condition.

It is most commonly the result of carrying your baby, leading to overuse of the wrist and forearm muscles. It can also result from fluid retention resulting from lactational changes during breastfeeding.  It is estimated that approximately a quarter of all mums can suffer from ‘mommy thumb’

What Are The Symptoms Of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

  • Pain in the thumb.
  • Swelling at the base of the thumb.
  • Aching and burning pain sensation in thumb and wrist.
  • Difficulty moving the thumb/wrist, such as lifting the baby in and out of the car, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, typing on a computer, doing laundry, and doing everyday chores.
  • Sometimes loss of strength in the wrist.

What Causes De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Work and daily activities that involve repetitive thumb and wrist movements may contribute to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. The tendons become irritated due to the new repeated action of lifting and caring for your young baby. It is often associated with hormonal changes within the body during breastfeeding.

How Is It Diagnosed?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is diagnosed clinically after a detailed medical case history and examination. Often imaging is not required.

Your Osteopath will go through your medical history and look for any risk factors contributing to your symptoms. A detailed examination of your thumb, wrist, shoulder, and spinal movements will then be conducted.

We will never just focus on your thumb and wrist because many other strains throughout your body can also add to the strain and dysfunction in your wrist and thumb. For example, if your shoulder is not functioning correctly, this will affect how your elbow, wrist, and thumb function. These joints are all interrelated, and a detailed examination must be carried out to determine the root cause of your pain.

Can Osteopathy Help With De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Your Osteopath will help reduce the inflammation at the thumb and wrist using hands-on osteopathic treatment, such as gentle manipulation, articulation, and soft tissue techniques. Your Osteopath will also treat the restrictions and dysfunction elsewhere in the body that may have contributed to this overuse injury. This will not only help with the acute injury but will also help to prevent re-occurrence down the track. Your Osteopath will also devise a detailed rehabilitation program for you, focusing on stretching and strengthening exercises.

If you did not respond to osteopathic treatment and rehabilitation, we would refer you to a specialist hand consultant to consider a corticosteroid injection. Surgery may also be considered, but this is rare for most patients.

5 Tips To Manage At Home

  1. Activity Modification: The most significant modification you can make to help resolve your tenosynovitis is avoiding activities that aggravate the thumb and wrist. Prop your baby up with pillows when breastfeeding, ask for help when lifting your baby in and out of the car, hold your baby on your other side, and avoid texting with your injured thumb.
  2. Use a Splint: In severe cases where the aggravating activity is something you can’t avoid, a splint can be a great option to restrict movement until the inflammation settles down.
  3. Medication. over-the-counter pain relievers are used to reduce pain and swelling. Talk to your doctor for more advice and information on suitable medication, especially when breastfeeding.
  4. Cold Compress: Use a cold compress on the inflamed area to help reduce inflammation.
  5. Rehabilitation Exercises: Do your rehab exercises prescribed by your Osteopath.


How Long Will It Take For My Injury To Heal?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can take anywhere from weeks to months to heal, depending on the severity of the injury and the level of self-care applied at home.

The process of healing proceeds in a relatively organised fashion. It follows 3 Phases of Healing that quite often overlap. Pain and inflammation throughout the healing process are expected as you will continue to load tissues that are still healing from their injury. For more information about the healing process – Click Here.

If you are struggling with Mommy Thumb (De Quervain’s tenosynovitis) – Our Osteopaths are here to help you!

 Please do not hesitate our osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.


Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.