What is de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Also known as “mummy’s wrist”, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is a super painful wrist condition that is common among new mums. But I’ve also seen it in tradies, desk workers and even a professional rugby union player!

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis symptoms

The pain is usually felt on the thumb side of the wrist and is worst when the wrist is bent and the thumb is stretched either downwards or outwards. Picking up and holding a baby is difficult, and the pain gets worse with prolonged tension, hence why this condition is so common in new parents. There may or may not be swelling. The good news is that this condition is not permanent.

Reducing pain on the thumb side of your wrist

The key to getting on top of de Quervain’s is to reduce the amount of stress you are putting your wrist under. I often use some combination of the following methods to alleviate and reduce this type of wrist pain:

  • Altering your activity so that you aren’t bending your wrist so much. 
  • Taping your wrist: a restrictive splint is sometimes required, but more often than not, simple taping is sufficient. 
  • The final piece of the puzzle is gliding and then strengthening of the tendon. Tendons don’t like to be rested for too long, so introducing controlled load of the tendon is crucial to a good result. 

Treating de Quervain’s tenosynovitis 

I see a lot of people with this condition. For new mums it is incredibly frustrating not to be able to care for your baby because of your wrist pain. For those working at a desk or on the tools it can be both irritating and anxiety-inducing as it may impact your ability to work. The longer you leave this pain untreated, the worse it will get. It’s crucial that you get expert advice about your activities, how to support your wrist, and the appropriate amount and types of exercise — I can help you with this.

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