Motherhood is loving and exciting! The quiet sleeping face, the little cute smile… oh time for another meal for the little one but OUCHHHH my wrist hurts!! It is indeed a unique experience for many, including all the pains and aches…
Have you heard of mummy’s wrist/ thumb?
It is also called DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis. It causes the pain in the wrist predominately on the thumb side, often radiating up to the thumb and/ or to the forearm. It may also be painful at the back of the wrist. You may even find it painful to grip or sleep at night.
It is quite often seen in new mums or a primary carer of a young child. It is often caused by a tendon in the wrist, which helps to bring the thumb up and tilt the wrist, getting inflamed after working hard repetitively.
- You have never lifted a weight (a growing baby) with your wrist SO OFTEN before! Feeding a baby and putting them to sleep every 3 hours is no easy work!
- You might have been relying on your wrist heavily while lifting and handling the baby, rather than your whole upper limb and back – so when you are holding your baby, you might tend to tilt your wrists rather than lifting from your elbows or shoulders.
- You just gave birth recently, you are still affected by some hormonal changes which makes your muscles softer and more susceptible to injuries.
What can we do about it?
1. Gently stretching your forearm and thumb as shown in the photos. When you feel the stretch, hold there for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 times.
2. Gently massage your forearm muscles. You may find some sore spots but no need to be mean to them, try to gently rub some cream on for a minute, you may find it relieving.
3. Try to avoid tilting your wrist while holding your baby. Brace the wrist in neutral (straight wrist) when you hold your child, then use your arm and power from your back to lift them up. If not sure, check with our physio or EPs for advice!
4. See a professional EARLY. It is great to get on top of it as soon as possible. It is a lot more difficult to settle down the inflammation when it gets accumulated, and it is very common that it does not go away by itself since you are taking care of a child 24/7. Physios and EPs are great at relieving your symptoms and, more importantly, to coach and teach you how to use your body efficiently in lifting rather than stress your wrist over and over again!!
5. ASK FOR HELP from your family. It is not easy to be a carer for a young human who doesn’t speak yet! Ask your family to help to put the baby into your arms, and give you a hand with baby caring and other house chores!
Let us know how you go with those tips! And we are always here to help if you have any questions!
Stay healthy and safe!
Molly Ren, Physiotherapist