It wasn’t until I had my first baby did I ever come across the term “Mommy Wrist” or “Mommy Thumb”. It is very real, very painful, and can affect mom’s during pregnancy and after the baby is born. The medical term for Mommy Wrist is DeQuervain’s Syndrome. In technical terms it is inflammation of the tendons that run along the thumb and are responsible for the motion of moving your thumb away from your hand (like a hitchhiker thumb motion). The most common area of pain is near the base of the thumb and wrist, but it can sometimes cause wrist and forearm pain as well.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
– Pain and visibile swelling near base of thumb
– Tenderness above the wrist when touched
– Problems griping, squeezing, twisting or moving the wrist in a waving motion
– Sharp, significant pain when lifting or carrying a baby (or other object)
– Thumb feels like it gets stuck or has a loss of range of motion
– Pain when tucking thumb into fist and tilting downward
Many mom’s lift their babies upwards of 30-50 times a day, with little rest in between. If your baby prefers being held constantly, as mine did, then mommy wrist can come on quite quickly! It isn’t exactly possible to just “not pick up a baby”, which essentially leads to an over use injury. As babies get heavier, the problem can become more noticeable! It is also quite common for pregnant mom’s to feel this later in their pregnancy due to swelling and fluid retention in the wrist.
If you think about the position of the wrist and thumb when you pick up a little one, you typically have your fingers around the babies back, and your thumbs under the underarms. The thumb is pointing upward, which strains the tendons over and over again. Or if you’re holding an older baby on your hip, your wrist is usually awkwardly bent with your thumb strained around babies hip or thighs to hold them in place. Again the issue here is daily, repetitive use for days, weeks and months until the baby becomes more independently mobile.
Have no fear…there are a few things that an help (aside from baby getting more independant!):
– Visit your local Chiropractor: They can adjust your thumb and wrist, and also do muscle work along the thumb, wrist and forearm to release tension and help decrease inflammation
– Self massage and stretching: Find the tender spots along the wrist and forearm and using some lotion or coconut oil work through the tender spots and knots in the muscles. Research stretches for the wrist to help stretch out the tightness in the wrist.
– Babywearing: find a comfortable baby carrier that will allow baby to be worn close to you, but will also allow your hands to be at rest.
– Ice: icing down the wrist will help to decrease inflammation
– Bracing/Taping: a spica splint for the thumb or kinesiotaping helps to keep the thumb in a proper position to not be continually strained.
Ultimately, DeQuervain’s Syndrome is self resolving once you’re not carrying around constantly lifting and carrying little ones. For some this can be a long time if you have babies close in age, so it is definitely recommend that you seek care for your pain. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can care for your little ones!!
This post was contributed by Dr. Meggen Briscoe Haselhorst of Milestone Chiropractic in Fredericksburg. For more information on Chiropractic and its health benefits or to make an appointment with Milestone Chiropractic, call 540-656-2885 or visit their website.