de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis AKA Mommy's Thumb

“Mommy’s wrist” or “mommy’s thumb” is a condition that is officially called de Quervain’s tenosynovitis (or tendonitis). This is a type of tendonitis in the wrist whose nickname comes from the fact that the condition is common in caregivers of young children. The tendonitis causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist and is worse with movement of the thumb.

de Quervain’s tendonitis

What are the treatment options for Mommy’s Wrist?

Fortunately, most people improve with time and never need surgery for de Quervain’s tendonitis. Therefore, non-surgical treatment is tried first for most people. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and improving function. Options can include:

  • Wearing a splint, which supports and immobilizes the thumb and wrist (“thumb spica brace”), can help reduce symptoms. Off-the-shelf and custom-made braces are available.
  • Resting the hand by avoiding repetitive thumb motion and forceful gripping may reduce the irritation of the tendons.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and Tylenol can reduce pain. Topical medications can be used as well.
  • Hand therapists can teach stretching exercises and reduce pain with modalities such as iontophoresis treatment.
  • Corticosteroid injections are very effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms in many patients.

If these measures fail to improve the symptoms, surgery may be offered and is typically curative.

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