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Mommy thumb: Causes, symptoms, treatment, and exercises

Welcome to the physiogain community, here we are again with an interesting topic called mommy thumb which is also known as De Quervain Tenosynovitis or mother’s wrist.

It is the most common injury that involves the wrist.

We find it very hard to cure some health problems but in this article, we tried our best to cure and manage mommy thumb or also known as De Quervain Tenosynovitis. We will also recommend you some exercises for its management.

It is named after Swiss surgeon, Fritz de Quervain.

what is mommy thumb?

In this case, the muscles and tendons that attach to the thumb become irritated.
It is a condition in which there is an inflammation and thickening of the abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis synovial tendon sheaths, and extensor retinaculum.

It is mostly found in women aged 30 to 50 years and most probably the cause is the great angle of the styloid process.

This is commonly occurs among individuals who do the activities requiring repetitive hand and wrist movements.

What causes mommy thumb?

  • People who do the occupation that requires repetitive use of hands for excessive periods.
  • A direct blow or trauma to the tendon or wrist.
  • Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis

What are the signs and symptoms of mommy thumb?

  • You will experience forearm pain.
  • There is wrist pain and swelling.
  • There is weak thumb abduction.
  • The patient’s pain will get worse when thumb activities combine with wrist radial or ulnar deviation.
  • Individuals’ grip strength will decrease.
  • There is a decrease in abduction ROM of the carpometacarpal joint.
  • There is unilateral palmar pain and swelling.

Functional implication

  • There is a loss of strength
  • We may find tendon rupture
  • Pain with the movement of the patient’s hand and wrist.
  • The patient experiences pain with pinching, grasping, squeezing, holding heavy objects, and wringing.


  • There is restricted ROM in thumb abduction and extension.
  • There is hand weakness with grasping, squeezing, and pinching.

Mommy thumb test

In this case, our main approach is to perform some tests to check Mommy thumb or De Quervain Tenosynovitis.

Finkelstein test

In this case, a patient needs to make a fist over a flexed thumb then ask the patient to do the ulnar deviation of the wrist.
If this motion produces pain, then we can consider this test to be positive.

What test

What(wrist hyperflexion and thumb abduction) test
In this case, a patient needs to hyperflex the wrist and after this, the patient needs to abduct the thumb. If this motion elicits pain then we may consider the presence of this mommy thumb.

Mommy thumb treatment

In this case, we need to advise the patient to avoid those activities that aggravate pain.

We can also use a few anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs. NSAID along with immobilization

We can also apply some physical therapy modalities like ultrasound, TENS, contrast bath, iontophoresis, etc.

Physical therapy intervention

In the acute cases, the patient needs to follow this plan

  • Rest
  • Cold laser
  • Ultrasound
  • Use ice to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • We can apply a wrist/thumb splint for 3 to 4 weeks, early splint compliance is essential.

Subacute stage,

  • Stretching exercises
  • Eccentric exercises

Chronic stage,

  • Surgery only after conservative treatment has been exhausted.

We also need to focus on weaknesses and for that, we need to follow

  • Stretching and strengthening program
  • Advice some hand coordination exercises, such as gripping and pinching
  • Educate the patient about proper body mechanics and postural awareness, that should be our priority because most of the thing originates from a bad posture.
  • Tell the patient to strictly follow the home exercise program.

mommy thumb exercises

Points to keep in your mind while performing these exercises

  • don’t over stretch the movement and do it in a controlled manner.
  • avoid doing jerky movements
  • don’t force yourself to do any movement

Wrist Flexion

Wrist extension

Finkelstein stretch

Flexion of the thumb

Lifting the thumb

Wrist radial deviation strengthening

Grip strengthening

Thumb abduction and finger extension using Thera-Band

Ulnar deviation of wrist

Thumb Extension using Thera Band

mommy thumb

In case, you have any query regarding this article, then please let me know

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