Mommy Thumb

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 10:34am

Doctors are seeing a rise in cases where mothers getting sharp pains in their thumbs.

More and more mothers of young children are experiencing sharp pains in their thumbs and wrists. It's gotten so common, that doctors are calling it "mommy thumb."

It began with a sharp pain on the side of her hand.

Patient Jennifer Chakir says "I had this sharp, shooting pain all down my forearm, starting at my thumb through my wrist."

Jennifer Chakir though maybe she has carpal tunnel or a work-related injury. But it seemed to hurt the most, when she was lifting up her one year old daughter.

Jennifer says "it was really debilitating. I had to put the baby down and take some ibuprofen because it was really painful."

Doctors diagnosed her with mommy thumb. It's a real medical condition and there has been a rise in mothers being diagnosed with this condition, formally known as De Quervian's tendinitis.

Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. David Auerbach says "after delivering a child, they do a lot of lifting of the child, have some fluid changes in the body, that leads to the pain and we see a lot of it."

The condition has been around for as long as patients have lifted their children, but now the number of cases are shooting up. Why? Doctors say a combination of heavier children, older new mothers, cribs that are lower to the floor, and frequent scrolling on smart phones are putting the thumb out of alignment with the rest of the hand.

Dr. Auerbach says "it's an inflammation of the tissue around the tendon. Definitely do not recommend trying to live with the problem. It rarely goes away on it's own."

Orthopedic surgeons estimate that between one quarter and one half of new mothers experience symptoms of mommy thumb.

The treatment, ice and anti-inflammatory pills or injections. Surgery for the really severe cases.

In Jennifer's case, she wore a wrist brace that included a thumb splint, which rests the tendon and reduces swelling.

Jennifer says "I wore that off and on for about two weeks and I've never had a problem with it since."

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