Mommy's Wrist: Fact or Fiction?
Do you have pain in your wrist and thumb after lifting your newborn? Scrolling your phone? Opening the doorknob? Opening jars?
“Mommy’s wrist” is real and is also known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. It is characterized by thumb-sided wrist pain that occurs often with gripping motions and when turning the wrist sideways. Additionally, popping sensations or sounds can be heard with movement of the thumb. You may also exhibit swelling and be tender to the touch on the thumb side of the wrist. You may also notice a visible cyst or bump.
Since pain doesn't stop for mothers to lift their children multiple times a day and complete tasks such as diaper changes, early treatment is key to managing and treating symptoms. Here are simple things you can do to reduce pain:
· Adjust your body mechanics and change how you lift your baby. Avoid repetitive
thumb motion or forceful gripping. Scoop under your baby’s bottom instead of lifting
under the arms decreases stress on the wrists.
· Use a pillow to support the weight of a baby’s head while nursing to decrease how
much you hold in your hand
· Rest your wrist. While easier said than done, icing the wrists often can help swelling in
· Decrease the amount of time you scroll on your smartphone.
· Use a brace to help to offload and immobilize the thumb and wrist. A thumb spica is a
particular brace designed for this type of tendonitis.
· See a physical therapist!
Physical therapy can help to decrease tightness in certain muscle groups and to strengthen surrounding muscles groups. Education is a key component of physical therapy and physical therapists can teach exercises to stretch the aggravated tissue, improve postural awareness, and for building strength to decrease pain. Together, a patient and PT can problem solve and come up with creative strategies to try to manage household chores and lifting your baby with less aggravation of the wrists.
At Catalyst Physical Therapy, we focus on the needs of moms, whether it involves postpartum pelvic floor conditions or orthopedic conditions, such as De Quervain's tenosynovitis.