De Quervain’s Syndrome Stretches, aka Blackberry Thumb – Ask Doctor Jo

De Quervain’s Syndrome Stretches, aka Blackberry Thumb – Ask Doctor Jo

Oh girl, no he didn’t! Oo wee, ouch. Hey everybody,
it’s Dr. Jo. I’ve gotten two different emails recently, one from Justin and one from Cindy.
Cindy was asking DeQuervain’s Syndrome and Justin was actually asking about Blackberry
thumb. They are basically the same thing. Then tendons in your thumb get very irritated
from an overuse injury. So texting is really going to irritate those tendons. So let’s
get started on some stretches and exercises, and hopefully get that feeling better for
you. The first two exercises are going to be stretching the two tendons that go to your
thumb all the way out to the wrist. What you want to do is hold your hand up straight,
and take your thumb and reach over to your pinky and come back. You can alternate fingers.
Go all the way down and then go back the other way. You can do this in a continuous motion,
but don’t go fast. You want to get a little stretch while you are doing it. So this is
not exactly what you want to do. You want to go nice and slow, get that stretch, get
that movement, get those tendons moving back and forth to help increase the circulation
to help the healing process. Then you can actually go into a stretch. Just stretch those
tendons. Bring your pinky down, and grab it with your thumb, and hold it there for about
30 seconds. After you do that for 30 seconds, relax, and do that 2 more times. So a total
of 3 times stretching out that tendon. Now it’s equally important to stretch your wrist
because these tendons run through that wrist canal. So the next stretches are stretching
your wrist. If you want to check out a whole bunch of wrist exercises, you can check that
out on my hand and wrist stretches video. What you want to do now is just take your
hand, don’t push too hard into pain, just to a stretch. Hold that there for 30 seconds,
and then reverse it and stretch that way. Again holding it for 30 seconds. You can do
this against a wall, but you probably want to start off with just using your hand so
it’s not quite as much pressure. After you do each of those for 30 seconds, 3 times each,
then you can start strengthening a little bit. I like to start off with some veggies
or soup. Something light, this is about a pound. Once it gets easier, you can start
adding weight, but you really want to start something not too heavy because you don’t
want to irritate these tendons, you just want to work them out. You can start off with going
down and up, and just alternating back and forth. Just start off with about 10 of these.
You don’t want to do a whole lot, and you don’t want it to be painful. So if it’s painful,
just try it without it, going back and forth. You can rest your arm on something if you
need to or you can just hold it up. After that, you want to switch, and your going to
go up and down this way. This is probably, going down, is where you are really going
to feel that stretch. So if you want to take your thumb and go this way or you can grip
it on the side. Going up and down. 10 of those, all directions. Just start off with one set,
and when that becomes easy, then you can build up your sets. Next find some rubber bands.
I’ve got two different kinds. You probably want to start off with a small rubber band
just to give you a little bit of resistance. Then you can move up to the bigger rubber
bands. I’m going to start off with the small one. Put it around all of your fingers including
your thumb. Almost like you are doing a little puppet show, and then take it and stretch
it out and slowly come back in. It’s just like those resistive bands, you don’t want
the rubber band to squeeze your fingers back in. You control the band. So you can go this
way with the thumb or you can open up all your fingers going out and in. But again,
just start with about 10 of them, and if that doesn’t cause any soreness or pain, then the
next day you can start building up your reps and your sets. Last one, if you’ve got a ball,
this is a racquet ball. You can use a tennis ball, you can use a big squishy foam ball,
but all you’re going to do is squeeze. Hold it for about 2 seconds, and then come back
out. This is going to be a lot stronger than like maybe a NERF ball. So you might want
to start off with something a little softer than a racquet ball because this is pretty
thick. So same thing, just start off with 10, and then work your way up. There you have
it. So if you are a big texter, not like me, or if you do a lot of repetitive movements
with your thumbs, these exercises should help. If you have any questions, leave them in the
comments section. If you would like to check out some other videos, go to
Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and remember be safe, have fun, and
I hope you feel better soon!

100 Replies to “De Quervain’s Syndrome Stretches, aka Blackberry Thumb – Ask Doctor Jo”

  1. I had a baby Sept 3rd and these pains started when she was about 2 weeks old. I hear it is common for new moms to get de Quervain's. I told my dr that I am 100% sure this is what it is but he won't listen and says I have carpal tunnel (he hadn't even touched my wrist to do any tests). But that's another story. Anywho… I've decided to take it upon myself to start doing these exercises. I have it wrapped about 22 hrs out of the day which helps immensely. Any other suggestions besides these exercises and ibuprofen? I obviously can't stop the activity that caused this which is picking up/holding my 4 month old baby.

  2. My pain is worst when driving. However i do get thumb pain when drumming (by profession). Physio therapy often helps, 1 session with usually give 3-4 months of relief. I feel i need a daily routine to live by to cope with the pain, albeit it minor, it is still difficult to work with this pain.

     What is the proper order when treating de quervains?  

    is it  advised to stretch again after cold? is this something to do 2-3-4 times per day? what do recommend in the morning, before bed, before and after strenuous activity. 


  3. I've had recurrent tendonitis in both wrists off and on for about 4-5 years.  I've had the maximum number of cortisone shots that I'm allowed in both wrists.  Surgery was on my to-do list, but I've heard the recovery can be quite long.  I'm set to start working full-time in June in a position with high repetitive movements involving my wrists.  I'm going to try these exercises first though.  I hope they work for me!

  4. Great video!  I unknowingly had De Quervains for about 3 weeks before seeing a doctor about it, so I think things got pretty badly inflamed.  I tried to do exercises, and although they weren't painful to do, the whole time it felt like I was stretching a sore muscle that I had worked out hard the day before.  The next morning my wrist felt pretty awful…

    I've never done physical therapy before, so I was wondering, are you supposed to feel sore after doing physical therapy?  Is it ok to feel a little soreness/pain while doing the stretches?  Thanks!  🙂

  5. Hello ! My de quervain's syndrome is hurting right now and i was just wondering if it is safe to do exercise and stretches etc when the wrist is in pain

  6. I've been suffering with De Quervain's for 3 months now, tried different options with no real improvement.

    I've started today doing all the stretches in this video and the ones in your 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome' video, as I thing they are closely related.

    I'd like to ask if it is ok to mix up the stretches, or is it important to keep them in the order shown.  Thanks for your video, I'll update on the results

  7. hi, i got my 1st steroid injection on my wrist 3days ago due tu this DQS, can i do all ur stretches or wait for a week?

  8. Hey Dr Jo – if the wrist is irritated and/or swollen will these exercises help or should they be done with a pain free/swell free hand/wrist?

  9. So I think I've had this in about a week. I don't feel that much pain and I stopped typing with my thumb on my phone and playing video games today. If I don't use my thumb that much and do these exercises, how long do you think will it take before it stops? FYI I'm 17 yo.

  10. Dr. Jo, Thank you for posting this. I've had this condition for over a year and didn't know what it was until my friend's mom was diagnosed with it. I looked up the symptoms and it matched exactly. My hand has gotten so bad that it's not just my thumb and wrist that hurts, but my whole hand. My fingers hurt. It even hurts to wash my face. I work at a fabric store, so I'm constantly cutting and moving fabric bolts. I wear a wrist brace and it helps a lot, but sometimes I don't like to wear it because I don't like the attention of everyone asking me what's wrong. I'm going to try these exercises, along with icing. It seems like the exercises would make it worse since it's using your thumb and wrist, which is exactly what hurts. Do you recommend resting the hand and wearing a brace for the rest of the day after doing the exercises? Will these exercises help to prevent it from coming back? Since I've had it for over a year, will it take longer to heal?

  11. Happy Video Game Day! If you constantly play video games or text a lot, you may have irritated thumb tendons known as De Quervain's Syndrome, or Blackberry Thumb… although who still uses a BlackBerry 🙂

  12. Studying for my Kinesiology final in the OTA program and your video's have been most helpful!  Thank you!

  13. Glad I found this.  Went to see ortho in Jan and they said I had this (hurt very badly) and gave me a cortisone shot which seemed to fix it at the time, was back to 100% in a week.  It recently came back, in both wrists!, so i am going to try stretching it.  Is it a good idea to take anti inflam with it as well such as advil? Thanks for posting!

  14. I visited an orthopedist for a different problem about five months ago, and as a side note I told him about some pain I had at the base of my thumb (i.e., the knuckle, not the wrist). He said I had thumb tendinitis. So, two questions for you: 1. is this the same as De Quervain's Syndrome? I haven't found a definitive answer online; and 2. because it's been so long, will stretches do? Could it be I need surgery? The pain is not always there, only when I over-stretch the thumb. Thanks!

  15. My symptoms started during pregnancy and have continued, if not worsened post pregnancy. I am breastfeeding. At what point do I look to further medical relief? Can I expect them to go away after breastfeeding?

  16. Hi! Thanks for the video. I recently wore a friendship bracelet that was too tight and all of a sudden my thumb started hurting when extending. If I extend slow I can avoid pain, but if I extend slightly faster, it is as if something comes out of place exactly where the thumb tendon is – right at the outside base of the thumb. I have been doing your stretches (without any weight) and if I do them slow they don't hurt and it feels good. However it hurts when I do the rubber band. Should I keep going or just rest it until it heals? I am scared that the thumb tendon can seize up if I rest it for a week or so.

  17. Hi! I came across your video as I've been having issues with De Quervain's Syndrome on my left wrist. I hurt the tendon when I bent my wrist while sleeping, and it's been over two months since then. I've already seen my doctor who told me to wear a brace (still use it when I sleep to prevent bending my wrist again) and prescribed me anti-inflammatory medication, but since I'm left handed I have to use this hand (it doesn't help that I'm a teacher so I have to use my hand for grading and writing on the board).

    I've noticed that while I have almost full range of movement back, if I overdo it the area where I feel the pain feels swollen. I was thinking of doing some stretching exercises but I'm not sure if I should wait until the pain goes away completely, or if it'd be ok to do them now slowly.

  18. I have a problem with my right index finger from the overuse of mouse scrolling, I can't bend it to the max., for 2days now I use nsaid cream" declofinac sodium" and ice 3 times a day, any recommendations?

  19. I've had this about a year and a half and it still hasn't healed! The brace I wear helped out quite a bit! I just want to get better! What else do I need to do? Please help!

  20. I actually developed this condition by sleeping in a bad position. My left hand was hanging over the side of the bed. My wrist/hand must have been bent for so long that it overstretched the tendons.
    That was 3 months ago. While pain has gone down in normal everyday tasks and motion, I still can't pass a Finkelstein test. My wrist locks up and absolutely will not bend. That's when the pain is the worst.
    Hoping these exercises and stretches are the solution. Cheers!

  21. thank you very much I'm really very thankful to you for the therapy that you showed for the syndrome it really work for me I no more have the pain. u r the best ……..thank you very much again

  22. Thanks Dr. Jo. Praying these work for me. I don't have insurance at this time and the cortisone shots are very expensive. I'll keep you posted. How soon should I start feeling better?

  23. had this for 3 weeks hurts like hell,I paint cars for living I'm gonna try strech video I've seen so far hope it works thanks a mill..

  24. I was seeing a physiotherapist and she asked me to stretch my tumb in an other way youre telling us… It cost 85$ per evaluation and 65$ each treatment. I can't afford that anymore i already spent 300$ :/ …. Îm a student and I can hardly write . Are those exercices supposed to hurt? Cause they do !!!!

  25. Im not sure what I have but the area under my right thumb and down to my wrist hurts a lot since last night. I can barely make a fist and do my daily duties. Ive been taking advil and icing. When is the best time to do these exercises and if theyre okay to do even if they hurt really bad.

  26. Hi, I've had golfer's elbow for a while now and have been doing the wrist stretch for it as it helps. The last few days I've done the stretch too many times and now pain has developed in my wrist just under my thumb. I'm not sure what to do, as that stretch really helps my elbow but is extremely painful for my wrist.

  27. I went to the doctor the second day I felt pain because I had suffered other kinds of tendinitis before and they became chronic as I failed to seek out treatment on time. I spent a bunch of money going to the doctor and they ended up telling me to get kinesiology treatment. Since I can't afford that right now, this is truly helpful. I'm only unable to lift heavy objects (cup of tea and up) right now, pain's not that bad. I mainly feel tense. I'm just really eager to get back on track with my side job as an illustrator.
    Anyway thank you so much for this video!

  28. Hi Doctor Jo, Been dealing with De Quervain's Tendonitis since 1st of Aug. of this year, 2016. Just recently went to the Dr. Can't do surgery or Cortizone shot which is what my Ortho Dr. wanted to do. Been doing the exercise here. How long might it take for my wrist to feel better?

  29. Hi Dr. Jo, Question. I've been doing the exercise you suggested. Sometimes where the tendon is a little swollen to the 2nd ben in my thumb gets tight & aches. Is there anything I can do to help that?

  30. I am sure I have this due to knitting. While doing these exercises, do I need to halt with my activities until there's relief, or can I just taper down? This is killing me being non productive!

  31. Thank you Doctor jo. Saw an osteopath today and she stretched my muscles in my fore arm with her fingers, it was very tight n painful and occasionally burning I my thumb where it's numb. Thanks for these exercises

  32. Big thanks………You are saving my life, Dr. Jo i am suffering from de quervain's syndrome from long, i am much relaxed now after doing exercise per your suggestion. You are the consulting physiotherapy to whom we do not have to pay fees but got results for sure. It is a service to humanity by relieving suffering.God bless you mam.

  33. Thanks doctor , i wanna ask i am a dentist and i am feeling this pain after a long session of periodontal treatment for a patient , is this possible cause for this syndrome

  34. I have a pinching pain that flares up and feels inflamed around the corner of the meaty part of the thumb joint. Its the very hard part of the palm just above the wrist crease. It seems to be an injury from pressing heavy weights on barbell or dumbbell and hurts in many different extended positions
    Is this consistent with de quervains?

  35. Gosh, I hope this works! I've having this pain for over 7 months now. Been wearing a brace for 5-6 months, been using a stress ball for some exercises, and recently got a cortisone injection, but it still really hurts 🙁 Would 7 months be too far out for this to work?

  36. Hi Dr., the pain I feel are in the bones within the palm of my hand, I have had my hand checked through an X-ray and been given some medications for it. I practice boxing at the gym with boxing pads, is it okay if I can still practice lightly or stop for the time being till the hand is healed ?

  37. Your videos are GREAT! I'm a drummer and percussionist, and as a result of NOT stretching, I definitely developed some overuse soreness and inflammation. This video especially is really helping me work out the thumb and the surrounding side of the wrist! Many thanks!

  38. What are your thoughts on cortisone injection? Are they effective for complete recovery or only good for a couple of months? Thank you very much.

  39. thank you DoctorJo – I thought it was Carpal Tunnel all this time, but I was actually diagnosed with this. It hurt so much, I could barely open a jar!!! These exercises have helped, so has an ergonomic mouse and work station at home – In your experience, are NSAIDs effective? Splinting? How about heat versus cold? Thanks:)

  40. Hi, Dr. Jo, I would like to know when should I start thess exercises as soon as I have the diagnostic or should I wait until the medication works?
    and how often. thanks.

  41. Great video! I will add that what really helped me was starting glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. Two tabs once daily. I felt much better after a couple of days. Really feeling great now after just one week of daily doses. Even my knees feel better since beginning supplements.

  42. I have been trying these exercises and it feels good. while doing few of them , i can feel my tendon it normal ?

  43. I got this syndrome from riding a motorcycle. I've had this issue come and go for a year now. ( Never truly going away ). Last week, I couldn't touch my thumb to my pinky. After watching this, I have been trying the suggestions and I can see great improvement. I hope to be able to get back to motorcycling soon. My Ortho, never suggested these, just gave me a shot and told me to come back in 6 weeks. The shot helped, but not like these stretches. Thanks so much…best of all, no co-pay to watch the video. Haha

  44. Thank you so much doctor jo. I spend time several hours a day on my phone but i don't have any problem but the pain comes when i perform the normal push up what should i do? Should i skipp push up or quit playing phone?

  45. Question: I am a guitar player. I always get injured and feel pain in my lateral aspect of wrist. I think it is Dequarvain's syndrome. Can you suggest me ways by which i can prevent myself from getting injured ?

  46. Hello,
    I love your videos. I am not quite sure if I have De Quervain's or not. The pain is in the Flexor Pollicis brevis, abductor pollicis brevis and also abductor digiti minimi and flexor digiti minimi brebis (palm of my hand more than the outer part of thumb). Do you have anything for that?

  47. Hi ma'am, thanks a lot for this help. Can u plz tell how long does it takes to resolve with the help of exercises n splint for moderate severity of pain???…. Plz reply back ..thanks again..

  48. Thank you so much. Twenty months ago I was having terrible pain, and it had reached the stage where I couldn't even hold a pen, let along dress/undress myself, cook, etc. A local physio said the only treatment was strapping up my wrists, doing nothing, and even then it might not work. This video was a turning point! It gave me hope, but it also brought relief. In fact, the exercises worked so well I stopped doing them.

    Sadly, the problem has returned, but I have recognised at a very early stage, and I have started doing the exercises again. Even after 3 days I can feel the benefit! You are rather brilliant. Thank you!

  49. Question – when my hand is in the holding-a-beer-ready-to-drink position, lifting the can/bottle upwards makes my wrist tendon pop and is painful. What could I do to strengthen those muscles in a different way, to avoid that aggravation?

  50. I developed De quervain's tenosynovitis last June while plying guitar, I've been visiting physiotherapist since then and yet to recover. As per my physiotherapist it's chronic with pain.
    TREATMENT he has been giving me ;
    1) IFT
    4) ICE PACK
    How long does it take to get rid of it?
    Please! Help with with it…

  51. Dr Jo,

    Very helpful D Q S exercises.

    My DQS started 2 weeks ago, from golfing.
    Should I continue to ice my thumbs and surrounding areas? How often per day?

    Once pain goes away, how long to wait before playing golf again?

    THX….you are great!

    Philip 8M0515

  52. Ok so I was DX with de quorvains. I was told to wear a thumb spica wrist brace, for 3 months and I received 2 injections in my tendon sheath. So the initial swelling has gone away and I’m actually able to bend my wrist. But I’m still sore all the time and sharp quick impacts cause me severe pain. But not using my hand no pain until I bump it. I would say brace actions like gripping holding no problem but if hand is just dangling and bumps something WOAH 11/10. And my wrist still looks more swollen than the other one. Trying a lot of otc remedies but I just can’t seem to be completely pain free. Don’t know if I’m just not using enough NSAIDS. Scared to over use them. I’m going to try these exercises slowly but I just don’t want to wait til my de quervains flares up again full tilt. I see that Carolina back there. Won’t hold that against ya, Go Tigers.

  53. I realize I’m commenting very late on this video, I just happened to stumble upon it recently. So anyways I’ve played a lot of computer games in my past, many hours a day, no problem. Back in June I played a bunch again, but this time things were different. My left wrist began to pop and click when I’d move my thumb, but it wasn’t too much of an issue. But I also pitch (baseball), and just got a new glove. Newer gloves are hard to move, and so when I catch a ball I have to really work it to open the glove. After today it’s really flamed up and I can barely move it without pain. I tried cold compress which sorta helped. I’m too afraid to do these exercises because I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do any without any pain. I also noticed that many people who have this end up getting it again and again. I’m thinking of getting a cortisone shot for it. But it seems to come back after people get those. It’s one of those things that once you get it it never goes away completely I guess. I’m wondering that if I don’t pitch for a month or two and stop playing computer games for really long periods of time and such that it won’t come back. I just wanna be able to use my hand again lol

  54. My job for a long time has been shipping I close boxes 8 to 10 hours a day and use my left thumb to do most of the work in a pushing down action I went to the doctor and was put on anti inflammatory drugs and rest for two weeks but it didn't help much at all I found my thumb would lock into place and pop 4 months later and my hand has more motion to it also my thumb no longer catches and pops but I've noticed in certain movements the pain is still there and most of all if I go to sleep without a brace on ice seems to help it alot and warm water makes it worse my thing is with the stretches I've been doing and now these exercises could this just about cure it where I can do things I once loved doing like working out or is this a life long problem until surgery?I've had this for about 4 months now and it is much better than the beginning how ever it can still become inflammed

  55. hi I pain in both arms and hands, cant even make a fist. it is very painful when I touch my thumb to my pinky. what else can I do? i also have bronchitis and was over exerting myself at work

  56. Thank you so much for this video! I got diagnosed with De Quervain Tenosynovitis and got a "triamcinolone acetonide" injection. I am now waiting for it to heal up. My question is, how long should I wait to resume lifting weights or taking kickboxing classes which I used to do before my hand started hurting? Will wearing a wrist brace help in preventing any damage while it heals?

  57. THANK YOU Dr. Jo!!! Congrats on your 100,000 subscribers, and I sent you some of those. I went indoor rock climbing a couple of years ago, stayed 2 hours each time for 3 total trips, then several months later got this De Quervain's. I'm not a gamer or big texter, but I think this may become prevalent with rookie rock climbers like me. Your stretches are the ones I do daily…THANKS again and God Bless You!

  58. Which time I can do it???that is 15 days my thump in rest and do not anything…so what time l can do this exercises???please reply. Thanks

  59. Thank you for this video. I had a fast-onset hand arthritis 4 months ago (after taking Baclofen), & along with it came DQS in both wrists & thumbs. I am doing exercises, plus using rubber bands to hold my thumbs closer to my fingers during the day. Taking Glucosamine/Chondroitin. Hopefully we all can get better soon. Thoughts & prayers for all!!

  60. I use the swype method of texting with my pointer finger and still have this syndrome. My OS says that some of this DX is with new mommies picking up new little ones. I had three grandbabies back to back, almost a year ago! I contribute my situation to my little ones, picking them up to hug and kiss all of the time!
    I shall practice these exercises, I have tried them and did feel the stretch there! Thank you!

  61. I've been dealing with this for 6 years. I have gone to therapy and received 7 shots. Nuttin seems to work. The shots lasted for 3 to 4 months. But each time the flare ups are getting worse. I work in manufacturing and its hard on me because of the repetitive motion. Im off work due to my hand. Surgery ,according to my surgeon, will not do me any good. The pain is so severe this time around. Any suggestions. Need help

  62. I developed mine after years of Fencing and I've noticed it comes back whenever I go on a long road trip (gripping the steering wheel really does a number on my wrist), thanks for the tips!

  63. hi dear Doctor Jo,i hope you will be fine there.Firstly i would to inform you that my english is terrible.i have been suffering de quervain's for two months. i took many madicines but pain still same. Actually when i try to move my thumb especially towards wrist ahhhhh i feel severe pain and a painfull crack in the thenar snuffbox and i lost my life that time. and now i just watch this video and i find a hope that it will recover by the help of your video. i tried first exercise what u adviced but feel too much pain when i move back my thumb after touching fingers. would you please help me and advice me what should i do? thanks

  64. Hello,
    Thank you for making this video, however I do have a question. I managed to give myself this injury while making a :bad golf swing. Its been about six weeks now and certain movements still cause pain, mainly if I hold an object in a way that "pulls" the wrist forward/down, but for the most part there is no discomfort of any kind. Golf swings are out of the question at this point as well. My question is, should I start the stretches or is it too soon and I should let it heal more ? Thanks.

  65. Hi there. I think i may have developed this from boxing. If thats possible? It doesnt hurt at all when i am training/actively striking a bag/pad etc, but as soon as i take my gloves off i feel pain turning my wrist radially but only when i turn it radially. Any advice?

  66. I have pain on the inside of the palm mainly the area of the abductor pollicis brevis into the wrist. Can this also be De Quervain Tendonitis or is this only on the outer side of the thumb? When I do these stretches I have a strong stretch mostly in the area of the abductor pollicis brevis.

  67. Thank you. These exercises help any time I do. I can see that the swelling is reduced every time i do them. Doctor there is anything else I can do to reduce / remove inflammation? (I am using oils and tiger balm and eating a lot of turmeric and ginger… but I am not sure is enough, it is already more than 2 months that I suffer for this De Quervain's)

  68. Hi Jo, I irritated my thumb on the computer…I can do exercises but have discomfort when I do them. How much pain is too much pain? I'm guessing there has to be some to make progress

  69. I had a flare up with this two years ago and it’s back! I didn’t do any stretching/strength building last time though so I’m hoping this will help for long term relief. I do wear a heavy duty brace all the time to keep it supported during my physical job and sleeping. Is that okay to keep it on and only take it off to exercise l/stretch it? I don’t want either practice to counteract the other. But I also want to strengthen/restore the issue rather than just avoiding pain.

    Also, once I get the pain managed would it be okay to wear a lighter weight thumb/wrist brace as a preventative measure just at work, or is that going overboard?

    Thank you for providing such great resources!

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