ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

My Wrist Hurts When I Move My Thumb!

Updated on January 17, 2014

My wrist hurts when I move my thumb!

"My wrist hurts..." That sentence seemed to be all I was saying about a year ago. Not good news for someone who writes for a living. Anytime I tried to move my thumb I got severe pain along the base of my thumb and into my wrist (the bit where the arrow is pointing in the picture).

It's hard to really imagine what 'severe' means when I'm talking about wrist and thumb pain like this. So maybe this will illustrate how bad things got. One day just before I ended up at the doctor's surgery, I was making a cup of tea and the tea bag slipped out of my grasp (as it turned out that was a common symptom that helped lead to my diagnosis). It was pure instinct to make a grab for it as it fell, but the pain I felt in doing so was so bad I ended up in tears. I missed catching it and ended up almost doubled over, wondering what on earth I'd done.

This lens reveals my journey from the vague cry of "My wrist hurts!" to an actual diagnosis, through treatment and out the other side with no more pain. And now I know what it was, I know what to do if it should ever flare up again. Although fingers crossed that won't happen - my wrist has been totally fine for about a year (maybe more) now. Hurrah! Hopefully my experiences can help you too if you have this same problem. Keep reading to find out what happened to me, from start to finish.

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional. I can only relate my experiences as I went through them. If you have any kind of medical problem at all, whether it is related to your wrist or thumb hurting as mine did, or anything else besides, see a qualified doctor for advice.

My wrist hurts and I don't know why

My wrist hurts
My wrist hurts

This was frustrating. I hadn't bent my thumb back or picked something up in a weird way; I knew I hadn't broken it and it wasn't really swollen either. I thought maybe I'd moved it in an odd way I'd forgotten about so I gave it a couple of weeks to see what happened.

During that time it kept waking me up at night. If I rolled over on it, it woke me up. If I bent my thumb or stretched in my sleep, it woke me up. The pain radiated out in the directions of the arrows in the above picture. But the worst of the pain was in the circled area. So I booked an appointment and went to see the doctor. She thought it was something I'd never heard of before - De Quervain's tenosynovitis. Yep, it's a mouthful (and a handful too, believe me).

She suggested I refer myself to the local hospital for physiotherapy (I'm in the UK and our local area has a self referral system that works pretty well). So I did that and waited a few weeks for an appointment. The diagnosis was confirmed through a few simple movements (most of which were hard to do and excruciatingly painful).

Classic symptoms of De Quervain's tenosynovitis

If you have these symptoms it doesn't automatically mean you have De Quervain's. But it is a distinct possibility. If you ever get these symptoms go to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get an official diagnosis the sooner you can get started on some physio, which can improve things a great deal.

  • Pain around the base of the affected thumb.
  • Inability to put your thumb up in an 'OK' gesture (imagine you're hitchhiking) without severe pain.
  • Loss of grip in the affected hand.
  • Swelling around the base of the affected thumb.
  • A pinging feeling when you try to move the thumb (feels like you cannot move it at all, then it suddenly 'pings' and moves). It's a bit like how a person acting like a robot might move, only a lot more painful.

Thumb splint immobiliser - The first step towards getting my thumb back to proper working order again

The first bit of advice I got from the physio was to get a thumb brace to fully immobilise my thumb. I was told to wear it virtually all the time for 6 weeks. Another classic sign that you have De Quervain's tenosynovitis is that the pain increases as you do more with the affected wrist and thumb. If you rest it, it starts to feel a little better so you won't constantly bug everyone else in your household with the cry "My wrist hurts!" every five minutes like I did.

The thing is you have to rest it for a long enough period to completely reduce any swelling in the affected area. So while it made typing difficult and slowed down my work a little, I knew how important my hands were to my job. So I persevered and wore the brace for the full 6 weeks. I just took it off when I had a bath or shower and every now and then if I felt a little hot. Even then I just took it off for around five minutes and then put it back on again.

I had the blue neoprene thumb support shown below and it worked wonders. Some of these are available in different sizes so make sure you measure up before you buy. Another good tip I will pass on is that I ended up buying two so I could put one in the wash while wearing the other one. Even if you don't get sweaty hands you'd be surprised how mucky one of these can get given half the chance.

Cold compress for wrist - The second step towards solving the problem

Another good piece of advice the physio gave me was to put a cold compress on my wrist at the base of my thumb a few times a day, for around 15 to 20 minutes a time. You shouldn't use one for longer than 20 minutes. I tried a good few of these, including a wrist support that had room for a cold pouch straight out of the freezer, and another one that was gel filled so you could mould it to the shape of your wrist. I think I liked the gel filled one best, especially since you could put it back in the freezer again afterwards ready for next time.

Wrist exercises

After 6 weeks of wearing the thumb brace and using the cold compresses, it was time to visit the physio again and to learn some exercises. This first one needs to be done gently and carefully, but it does work if you use it consistently.

Wrist exercise Step 1

wrist exercise step one
wrist exercise step one

Okay so here is the first step you have to do. Keeping the palm of your hand flat and in line with your arm, tuck in your thumb as best you can so it is against or close to your palm. Go gently as you do this, especially if your wrist hurts (which it probably still is - mine was).

Wrist exercise Step 2

wrist exercise step two
wrist exercise step two

With your thumb into the palm of your hand, curl your fingers over the top of it to hold it in place like this.

Wrist exercise Step 3

wrist exercise step three
wrist exercise step three

Now for the challenging bit. Bend your hand to the side in the direction of the arrow, as shown in the photo. Do this gently - you may find as I did that you can't go very far at all to begin with. What you're doing here is stretching the tendons to make them looser, but you need to do it several times a day and make several attempts to stretch them on each occasion. I was told never to stretch them beyond the point where it would start to hurt. Pay attention to how it feels - you'll know if you start to go too far.

So have I finally stopped saying "my wrist hurts"?

YES!

There was a time when I thought my wrist and thumb would never feel the same again. But by sticking to the instructions my physio gave me, doing the exercises regularly, wearing the thumb brace when I needed to and using cold compresses too, my De Quervain's associated wrist pain and thumb pain disappeared. I guess I will be prone to getting it again if I'm not careful, but so far so good. Typing is fine too, thankfully.

So if you get similar symptoms and start saying "My wrist hurts!" on a regular basis, don't ignore it. It only gets worse. Get an official diagnosis and then start doing everything you can to get full function back in your hand, wrist and thumb as quickly as you can. Good luck :)

Some more of my lenses

Allison Whitehead's Lensography
Writer, reader, cat owner (or cat possession, still not sure which), partner, business owner, food lover, blogger, tennis fan, cinema goer, bread baker, Squi...

Understanding Ovarian Cancer
Back in 1983, when I was eleven, I lost my mum to ovarian cancer - the 'silent' cancer. She was just forty nine.I've now hit the big 4-0, and there is still ...

Cute and Funny Cat Videos on YouTube - plus Jasper
Don't you just love cute funny cat videos, especially when they raise a smile? Jasper loves watching them too. Yes that's him, the White Wonder reclining on ...

The Evolution Of A Garden
When nature throws down a challenge, who am I to refuse? The evolution of our garden begins here... This is our back garden. I took this picture from upstai...

The Evolution Of A Garden Shed
As you'll know if you've been reading my main garden lens, The Evolution of a Garden, it's been a long journey to reach the point where we can even think abo...

Jasper - the whitest white rescue cat in the world
Now I'm NOT going to let my owner introduce me, because that would be unfair. To me. I'm a cat - I'm a rescue cat too - so I'm pretty much able to take contr...

Affiliate Disclaimer

Allison Whitehead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Have you ever suffered from wrist and thumb pain?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 

      5 years ago

      I have a friend who had this condition and I know how painful it was for her. I think you give very good advice here.

    • KateH2 profile image

      KateH2 

      5 years ago

      I never have myself although I do get mild tendinitis in my left hand and know how painful that can be. Glad to hear your thumb/wrist is now all better. Very informative lens.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)