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4 Easy Treatments for ‘Mommy Wrist’

July 17, 2023

Did your new bundle of joy come with some unwanted wrist and thumb pain?

For the Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco – and countless other women – motherhood means lifting, holding and nursing newborns. But all of that lifting can lead to “mommy wrist,” a painful condition caused by overuse of the hand and wrist.

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What is mommy wrist?

“Mommy wrist is the common name for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. This is caused by the irritation of two tendons to the thumb, from repetition and overuse,” says Hudson Seidel, MD, orthopedic surgeon with the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center.

This could be caused by any number of repetitive motions – typing, working with your hands or playing instruments, to name a few. But it’s earned a reputation for affecting pregnant women and mothers, who are frequently putting their babies’ comfort ahead of their own.

“Mothers may start to experience pain on the thumb side of their wrist, when they repeatedly torque their wrists and hands in awkward positions to hold their babies. Over time, those tiny motions add up to a lot of pain,” says Dr. Seidel.

> Related: Have a Desk Job? Don’t Ignore These Signs of Hand or Wrist Injury

How can I tell if I’m developing mommy wrist?

Look out for common symptoms, including:

  • Pain or swelling at the base of your thumb and in your wrist
  • Pain that intensifies with thumb use
  • Tingling on top of your hand
  • A catching or popping sensation when you move your thumb

“If you start to notice any of these symptoms, try to take breaks, rest when you can and limit activities that strain your wrists or thumbs. As a new mom, these may not always be realistic options, but do the best you can,” Dr. Seidel adds.

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You don’t have to live with the pain.

If you’re suffering from mommy wrist, there are plenty of options available. With some treatment and exercises, you can regain use of your hands – without the pain.

Treatment options include:

  1. Wearing a splint for 4-6 weeks to immobilize the thumb and wrist
  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  3. Corticosteroid injections, which can reduce common symptoms within 1-2 weeks
  4. For severe cases, surgery could be needed with a full recovery period of 4-6 weeks

But mommy wrist isn’t the only culprit for wrist pain.

If your “blissful” pregnancy has been tarnished by a nagging wrist pain, carpal tunnel could be to blame. In fact, up to 60% of pregnant women will develop carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) during their pregnancy.

“Though it is usually temporary, carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy is most noticeable in the 3rd trimester. It can cause a lot of discomfort while symptoms persist,” says Dr. Seidel.

Whether you’re suffering from mommy wrist, carpal tunnel or a different condition entirely, an expert can help.

“You don’t have to push through the pain,” Dr. Seidel notes. “If you’re experiencing wrist pain on a regular basis, it’s time to talk to a doctor.”

Want to connect with the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute?

When hip or knee pain prevents you from doing the things you love, the experts at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center are here to help.

Visit website Call Call 855.902.8581