New moms can be particularly prone to developing a condition called De Quervain’s tendinosis, also known as mother’s thumb. The condition occurs when the tendons around the base of the thumb become inflamed, irritated, or constricted.
Pregnancy — and specifically the extra weight, fluid retention, and hormonal changes in brings — can make women more susceptible to De Quervain’s tendinosis. Its primary cause, though, is overuse in the form of repetitive lifting of a baby under his or her arms. This method can cause pressure on the tendons while your hands are in an ‘L’ shape.
The primary symptom of mother’s thumb is mild discomfort to severe pain on the thumb side of the wrist. The pain may appear either gradually or suddenly and is usually felt in the wrist traveling up the forearm. The pain is typically worse when the hand and thumb are in use, especially when forcefully grasping an object or twisting the wrist. A ‘catching’ or ‘snapping’ sensation may be felt when moving the thumb. Swelling may be visible over the thumb side of the wrist, accompanied by a fluid-filled cyst in the region.
There’s no need to experience pain when caring for your baby. Treatment options are available to relieve the pain caused by irritation and swelling from De Quervain’s.
- Avoid activities that cause pain and swelling, and the symptoms may go away on their own. In the case of lifting a baby, try scooping the baby up from under his or her bottom rather than lifting under the arms. Some nursing positions can cause irritation; use a pillow to find a comfortable position.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine or corticosteroids may be recommended, to be taken by mouth or injected into the tendon compartment, to reduce swelling and pain.
- Splints may be used to stabilize the thumb and wrist.
- If symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be recommended to open the thumb compartment, making more room for the irritated tendons.
Get Help from the Hand Center
Don’t let hand pain interfere with caring for your baby and your quality of life. The professionals at the Muskegon Surgical Associates Hand Center provide expert care that will get you back to feeling your best as soon as possible. Our specialists are skilled at the full range of procedures that treat mobility issues and repair injuries, including De Quervain’s tendinosis. Contact us today for a consultation.