University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis in Primary Caregivers

Ellen Ferraro, MD; Joseph Ferraro, MD; Sonja Pavlesen, MD, MS; Charles Carlson; Tova Ablove, MD; Robert Ablove, MD

WMJ. 2023;122(2):110-113.

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Introduction: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the incidence of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in newborn caregivers – both male and female – as well as potential associated factors, such as child’s age or weight and lactation status.

Methods: Surveys were administered from August 2014 to April 2015 to parents with young children in the greater Buffalo, New York area. Parents were asked to report wrist pain symptoms and location, number of hours spent caregiving, child’s age, and lactation status. Participants who reported wrist pain performed a self-guided Finkelstein test and completed a QuickDASH questionnaire.

Results: One-hundred twenty-one surveys were returned: 9 from males and 112 from females. Ninety respondents reported no wrist/hand pain (group A), 11 reported wrist/hand pain and a negative Finkelstein test (group B), and 20 reported wrist/hand pain and a positive Finkelstein test (group C). The mean QuickDASH score in group B was significantly smaller than that of group C. On average, child age was statistically significantly different across categories of pain with the oldest population in the positive Finkelstein group (group C) (272.8 ± 196.5 vs 481.9 ± 488.9, P = 0.007).

Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis that mechanical components of newborn caregiving play a major role in the development of postpartum de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. It also supports the concept that hormonal changes in the lactating female are not an important contributor to the development of postpartum de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Our results, as well as previous studies, suggest a high index of suspicion for the condition must be maintained when seeing primary caregivers with wrist pain.

Author Affiliation: SUNY at Buffalo Department of Otolaryngology, Buffalo, New York (Ferraro E); Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Department of Orthopaedics, Newark, New Jersey (Ferraro J); University at Buffalo Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Buffalo, New York (Pavlesen, Ablove R); SUNY Upstate Medical University Norton College of Medicine, Syracuse, New York (Carlson); University at Buffalo Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Buffalo, New York (Ablove T).
Corresponding Author: Charles Carlson, 750 E Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13210; phone 716.517. 0717; email; ORCID ID 0000-0001-6125-2162
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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