Young father holding his new baby

What is Dad Quervains?

A lot changes when you have a baby. Your focus shifts from yourself to this tiny thing that requires all of your attention all of the time. You start to discover that the life you knew before is now gone: your time is now filled with feeding; drooling; stressing about power point and furniture corners; lots more poop then you thought you could handle; less time for yourself and your friends; and the best thing about it is that your don’t care. You have a little thing that you watch grow, share milestones with, and shift all of your focus onto. 

One of the changes that we often don’t think about (and gets larger everyday) is the new load that a baby has on the muscles in your wrist and thumb. Often we don’t think about the way we lift a baby. We do it the way that feels natural, the way we see others do it, the way we see it on the TV. This can lead to a condition called De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, or commonly called “Mum Thumb” or “Mummy Hands”. 

Did you know (and I’m sure you figured it out), that this can happen to new dads too? In this case I will now refer to it in classic Dad joke style, “Dad Quervains”. Dads regularly pick up their baby and change nappies and clothes too. As the baby gets older, dads tend to be the ones to throw their babies in the air (and catch them) just to see the joy and excitement on their faces. These activities also put strain through those thumb muscles that so often get overloaded without us thinking about it. 

What is “Dad Quervain’s”?

  • Dad Quervain’s is a shooting pain that is often felt at the base of the thumb, due to an overuse of the thumb and wrist muscles.
  • This overuse causes the tendons to become inflamed and start rubbing in the little tunnel that holds them in place, just around the base of the thumb.
  • This is felt during activities such as picking up your baby, changing nappies and clothes, and other activities that use any sort of griping action. Not to mention shoulder rubs that us dad’s give to our significant others (they just had a baby, they’ve earned it).


What can we do?

There are many things that you can do to help manage the symptoms. 


Give them thumbs a rest, they do a lot, they get tired too and need some time to settle


How about a good dose of deep heat? Or a wheat bag. Heat can help reduce the inflammation and feels really great your sore hands


You can get a splint to help stabilize that thumb and help it rest. This can be a soft splint found at a chemist, or a custom made splint that we can do here in the clinic. There are advantages to both, depending on the severity or the way you use your hands everyday.


Tuck those thumbs!, picking up a baby is a thing of the past, scooping up a baby is the future! Be conscious of all the activities you do with your thumb out that may be done with the thumb tucked beside your fingers.

Last resort!

There is always the option to treat Dad Quervain’s with a corticosteroid injection or even surgery to release the tension. 

Remember, taking the stress off of that thumb can help manage and reduce your symptoms. If you require more information come and see your local Melbourne Hand Rehab hand therapist. 

Ben Jaap, Practitioner in Hand Therapy, Melbourne Hand Rehab

By Ben Jaap

If you are experiencing hand or wrist pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help you.



For more information, call us directly on 03 9458 5166


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