New Mommy Malady: "Mommy Thumb"

FRESNO, Calif.

Little Jayden James in on the ground and in the air. He's an 8 month-old on the move.

"Going out anywhere, he's very social, so he loves to be around people," Kim Brenninkmeyer, Jayden's mom, told Ivanhoe.

The fact that Kim can keep up is amazing. When Jayden was born, she found the area from her wrist to thumb was in constant pain.

"Any time where I had to kind of stretch was very painful," Kim said. "It just felt like it was tearing, ripping, burning."

"She asked very frankly, 'Is this going to happen every time I have a child? I don't know if I can go through this,'" David N. Maine, M.D., director of the Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Maine knew the cause: so-called "mommy thumb." It's a new term for over-use injury. The true name: De quervain's tenosynovitis. It comes with the scooping, holding and lifting that new moms aren't used to.

"I've talked to friends who've had babies, and they've said, 'Oh, I had that, too,' and no one knew what it was," Kim said.

Experts say one-quarter to one-half of new mothers now get symptoms. Causes include heavier children as more than 10 percent of 2-year olds are now overweight. Plus, more older mothers are having kids, and more people are using thumb-numbing smart-phones.

"All that can create this overuse of these tendons along the base of the thumb and create tendonitis essentially," Dr. Maine said.

A new mom at 40, Kim got cortisone shots, which are 90-percent effective. Now, she can keep up with Jayden with no problems.

"So, at about two weeks, I was pain-free, which was just such a relief," Kim said.

If cortisone shots don't work, surgery is an option. De quervain's issues may also start to present themselves in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Daniel Collins
Mercy Medical Center

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