Jock Doc

New mother’s thumb-to-wrist pain may be related to recent pregnancy

Q. Dr. Selesnick, I have had worsening pain at the bottom of my thumb extending to my wrist. I am right handed and it is my right thumb. I do not recall injuring it but I do a lot of computer work and gardening. I had a baby three months ago and work from home. I have not taken any medication as I am still breast feeding. It bothers me most when I move my thumb upward or move my wrist. What can I do to get better?

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Dr. Harlan Selesnick

A. A very common cause of thumb and wrist pain is a form of tendinitis known as deQuervain's tenosynovitis. This is usually an overuse injury that results in inflammation and thickening of the tendons that let you straighten out and abduct your thumb. It is frequently seen in people who use computers often for work, as well as those who work out. It is more common on the dominant wrist and has also been associated with hormonal changes during and soon after pregnancy. Initial treatment is usually anti-inflammatory medications and a thumb splint. You should check with your pediatrician to decide what is the preferred medication while breast feeding. If the symptoms are severe, a cortisone injection can be effective in relieving symptoms. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon or hand specialist to confirm the diagnosis and get you better ASAP.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to