• Kristen Ruhmann


Are you experiencing wrist and thumb pain after having your baby? It is a very

common complaint and like many other areas of the body, the wrists are

adapting to a whole new daily workload. Repetitive lifting of your baby, holding

baby in sustained positions (such as feeding), or simply carrying your newborn

around throughout the day are likely causes of upper limb overload. It often

starts as a niggly pain at the side of the wrist or thumb region but can soon

worsen to a constant ache with general weakness and create difficulty with

everyday activities.

If this is the case, you may be experiencing de-Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. It is a

common painful condition that occurs due to repetitive overload of the thumb

tendons whilst the hand is in a grip position. This causes inflammation in the

surrounding tendon sheath at the side of the wrist. Local swelling restricts

tendon gliding in the tunnel and causes catching and pain. Usually a thickened

tender area develops at the thumb base and most gripping movements hurt.

The earlier you modify daily activities and treat the tenosynovitis the better!


 Keep the thumb in line with the other fingers and avoid pulling the thumb

out wide to grip. The wrist should be kept neutral as often as possible.

You will need to scoop under baby whilst lifting and not grip around the


 Ice the tendons for 15 minutes every couple of hours throughout the day

 Wear a thumb splint to support the area. This will restrict movement and

allow healing. Your physiotherapist will recommend a suitable splint.

 Ask for help with meal preparation, bathing baby and lifting tasks. Take

regular breaks with daily activities and spread tasks throughout the week.

 The more you rest the thumb, the sooner it will heal. Remember that

tissues are weak when they are healing and can be easily aggravated

again with simple tasks.

 Local anti-inflammatory creams may be helpful.

 A thorough physiotherapy assessment and treatment plan should be

developed to assist with education, soft tissue therapy, splinting and pain

management. Graduated return to activity and re-strengthening programs

should follow to ensure that the condition does not re-occur.


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Disclaimer: “The information contained on this website is generalised advice and should not be relied upon for specific circumstances. It is recommended that you consult a health professional prior to commencing any activity or treatment discussed. No responsibility will be taken for individual circumstances.”