person doing thumbs up

What Is The Mommy Thumb/Finger

The Mommy thumb or mother’s thumb is officially known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. The term mommy thumb is used for it as it is common in pregnant or mothers of young children.

It is a type of tendonitis that occurs on the thumb side of the wrist. It happens when the tendon sheath from the thumb to the wrist becomes inflamed. This causes the tendon not to make any attempt to be very painful.

It is common in new mums because they tend to pick and hold their babies a lot. Lifting the baby now and then is what stresses the wrist causing this condition.

When this condition occurs, and wrist movement is inhibited to some extent, it makes activities such as opening a door or a jar, lifting objects, and gripping onto things to become excruciatingly painful. This is because each time you do these activities, you upset the tendons more.

What Is The Mommy Thumb/Finger

Causes of the Mommy Thumb

Mommy Thumb
Photo by Anna Shvets on

The mommy thumb can be caused by several factors such as adding weight during pregnancy, fluid retention from pregnancy, fluctuations in hormonal levels, and lifting the baby. It is important to note that the main cause of the mommy’s thumb is the baby’s constant lifting.

This constant picking up and holding of the baby will have your wrist facing downwards to the ground. This eventually leads to excessive stress on the two tendons responsible for moving the thumb. The sheath of these tendons will thus become swollen, causing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

One can do the Finkelstein’s test to confirm if they have this condition. The following are the steps followed in doing it;

  • Place your thumb in your palm.
  • Clasp your fingers around your thumb.
  • Slowly try moving your wrist in the direction of your small finger to reproduce the pain.

How to treat the Mommy Thumb? Options

Mommy Thumb
Photo by Donald Tong on

It’s not easy to prevent the mommy’s thumb. Why? Because picking up and holding your baby now and then is inevitable.

However, it is important to note that the condition eventually wears off and that you would not necessarily require surgery to take care of it.

The following are treatment measures meant to reduce the pain and improve how your wrist functions:

  • You can wear a splint. A thumb spica brace will not only support your thumb but also immobilize it. It helps by reducing swelling of the tendon sheath, thus reducing the pain.
  • Changing how you lift the baby. You can pick up the baby by scooping them up from under their bottom. You should then hold the baby with your palms facing up. This will redistribute the baby’s weight.
  • Resting your wrist. Avoid activities that repeatedly engage your thumb. This includes phone usage which can be addictive. You can also have your partner hold the baby more often as you heal.
  • You can also take anti-inflammatory medications. Ibrufen, Tylenol, and naproxen can aid in reducing the pain.
  • You can also see a hand therapist. Physiotherapy will include exercises that will help you heal slowly.

If the pain continues and worsens after taking all these measures into account, surgery may be required. The mommy thumb can affect anyone that is constantly lifting children. Dads have also reported experiencing de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

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