Mommy Thumb: Is this Normal?


Maybe you just have a newborn at home. Maybe you have a 3 year old and 2 year old AND a newborn whom you are lifting at home. Not to mention the laundry baskets, dishes and purses. You’ve got a lot on your hands! Do you notice pain in your hand every time you make a fist, lift your children, grasp something, or turn your wrist? You may have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Big name! Don’t be scared though! We can fix it.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons in your thumb and wrist. It is often called Mommy Thumb.

So what can you do about it?

-Try avoiding lifting your baby with your thumbs and index fingers in an L position. I know it may come as a reflex to do that, but you need to protect your hand and wrist to allow the tendon to heal. So you’ll need to change your mechanics and habits for just a bit. If you are lifting your baby out of his or her crib with your fingers around their back and thumbs on their chest, this will put too much weight and strain on your thumbs. Instead try to lift your baby by sliding one hand under their butt and the other hand and forearm under the upper back and head. Then bring the baby to your chest and use your forearms to support her or him. This will give your baby the support he or she needs without overworking your thumbs.

-Spica splint: this is a splint that will immobilize your thumb. This will give your thumb a chance to calm the inflammatory process that is happening and therefore reduce the pain in your wrist and thumb. You can wear it while sleeping and during the day.

-Rest: Avoid excessive typing, chopping, smart phone swiping and anything else that may provoke your pain. I know that’s hard! But trying to detox from technology will probably help the healing process along—in more ways than one.

-Ice: Use a paper towel or towel between your skin and a cold pack (you can use a bag of frozen vegetables). Apply this cold pack for 10-15 minutes throughout the day as needed. This will help calm inflammation and pain as well.

If these tips don’t work, be patient! You literally have a lot on your hands. Also know that a physical therapist can also give tailored treatment and more tips if you need a little more help along the way.

Written by Denise Jagroo DPT, MTC, WCS. Denise is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Women’s Health Physical Therapy and the co-author or Your Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains and Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy.  Dr. Jagroo has a private practice in midtown Manhattan: