Have you heard of Mother’s Wrist?

New parents who repeatedly lift their babies under their arms may experience a condition commonly called Mother’s Wrist (also known as de Quervain’s tendonitis or tenosynovitis in the medical world). It’s caused by pointing the thumbs up and wrapping the other fingers around the back of the baby, which results in inflammation of the tendons below the thumbs.

Mother’s Wrist typically results from repetitive use, direct injury or hormonal factors. Overuse of the major tendons of the wrist usually results from repeated gripping, grasping, clenching, pinching or wringing. It is more common in women, especially those who are pregnant or taking care of babies.

However, some jobs and activities, such as frequently using your smartphone, may also cause de Quervain’s tendonitis. This results in irritation and thickening of the sheath covering the tendons, which restricts their movement. In general, people between the ages of 30 to 50 have a greater risk of developing this condition.

What does Mother’s Wrist feel like?
People who suffer from Mother’s Wrist often experience pain, swelling and sometimes a catching sensation around the base of their thumb, which can make pinching or grasping movements difficult. Other movements in the wrist and forearm (such as twisting) may also increase the pain.

How can I prevent Mother’s Wrist?
1. Change the way you lift your baby. Avoid straining your wrist by using your palms instead of your wrist to lift your baby. Cradle your baby using your forearms and fingers while relaxing your thumb to put less stress on your tendons.

2. Change your breastfeeding position. Lessen the strain on your hand and wrist by using a pillow to support your baby’s head.

3. Give yourself time to heal. To avoid injury, it’s important to rest. Allow your wrist to heal by applying ice or cold compresses and taking anti-inflammatory medications. Ask someone to lift or carry your baby when possible, and limit repeated movements that can inflame your hands and wrists.

4. Use a splint. Using a spica splint can immobilize your thumb, which will reduce swelling and discomfort, especially when applied early and consistently.

When should I see a doctor?
If the pain or discomfort doesn’t go away after a few days of ice, cold compresses or medication and it interferes with your daily activities, consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

We can help
Teri Formanek, M.D., is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hand and upper limb surgery and treatment. He received his medical degree from University of Iowa and completed hand surgery training at Harvard University. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery with a certificate of added qualifications in hand surgery and is board certified in Hand Surgery. He does minimally invasive surgeries including wrist arthroscopy, elbow arthroscopy, shoulder arthroscopy, endoscopic carpal tunnel release, and endoscopic cubital tunnel release. Dr. Formanek offers in-office procedures to help patients save time and expense.

Dr. Gregory Yanish specializes in hand, forearm, and elbow surgery. He received his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine and is board certified in general surgery and Surgery of the Hand. Dr. Yanish also specializes in minimally invasive surgery including endoscopic carpal tunnel release, endoscopic cubital tunnel release, Tenex fast procedure for tennis elbow and PRP injections.

To make an appointment with either Dr. Formanek or Dr. Yanish, call us at 515-440-2676.

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