DeQuervains Tenosynovitis is a common hand condition that causes pain at the base of the thumb and into the wrist. It can be classified as a repetitive strain injury due to increased repetition in lifting and prolonged awkward hand postures.
Hand therapy specialist Alison Butcher from Hand Works Occupational Therapy says early diagnosis is best as it allows treatment to be started swiftly.
“Current treatment is rest, immobilisation and pain relief,” says Ms Butcher.
“If not treated, DeQuervains usually resolves after mothers stop breastfeeding, but it can be a very painful and difficult time.”
DeQuervains occurs most frequently in women between the ages of 20 and 40.
“In new mothers, it is caused by the stress put on their wrists by regular lifting and feeding of a new born baby,” explains Ms Butcher.
“Sometimes the pain is so severe that they struggle to sleep well, and we all know how important sleep is at this time.”
“Mothers are so focused on caring for their baby that they tend to put their own health on hold which can be one of the worst things to do.”
Ms Butcher finds mothers who develop DeQuervains have often had difficulties during labour or with breast feeding.
“Breastfeeding for long periods of time or having IV drips in their wrist can further develop the injury.”
“Other factors include having multiple or heavy babies.”
If you are experiencing wrist pain, the following strategies might be helpful:
• A removable wrist and thumb brace
• Simple exercises and stretches
• Equipment such as a breast feeding pillow
• Education on wrist postures
In most cases, pain will ease in two to four weeks. If pain does not ease after treatment, cortico-steroid injections and/or surgery is recommended.
The Hand Works Occupational Therapy at the Wexford Medical Centre specializes in the treatment of hand and upper limb injuries.
Please phone 1300 887 798 or visit: http://www.handworks.net.au for more information.