If someone had told me that I could suffer from “a mommy thumb” after pregnancy I would have laughed at him and said that my thumbs are just fine. Well it has been happening… pretty much since my daughter was born. It is not about thumbs that much as it is about a painful wrist. Recently I discovered that there is a sexier name for this issue and it is DeQuervain’s tendinopathy. Now I feel quite special 😀
The actual situation: I have a 7 months old daughter, I started lifting her up under her arms at her chest. I hoped that the pain would go away. Nope, it did not. I possibly have both wrist inflamed and my elbow started hurting as well.
What is DeQuervain’s tendinopathy?
De Quervain’s tendinopathy is an inflammation of two tendons and their tendon sheath in your hand/wrist. Your wrist is in pain and you basically can’t grip, rotate your wrist, move your thumbs certain ways. The issue starts usually after 4-6 weeks after labor, by carrying a child and as one smart guy explains in the video below due to the pregnancy hormone relaxin that loosen your ligaments you then overuse your tendons and they can get easily painful and inflamed.
What have I tried to get better?
Visiting an orthopedist
I “love” going to doctors. So even the first problems with my wrist occurred within a month after a labor I postponed the doctor visit by almost a month. In case you experience any troubles now, be wiser and do something right away and pay attention to it. I wish now someone would have told me.
The visit was short and simple. He touched my hand and like some fortune teller told me…
He: It is overused.
Me: Ha, that’s news.
He: Hold the baby somehow different.
He: Take these pills and get back if it doesn’t help. Plus, want to get a cortisone shot? I can give you one right now.
Me: No thank you!
I must say the visit was free of charge. 😀 I only paid for some pills.
Do I want to go back to this doctor? Well, no. 🙁
Visiting a physiotherapist – 4x shockwave therapy
This was a much better experience. I was heard. And staying home mommies need to be heard 😀 The nice lady did an ultrasound on my left hand and found out that there was an inflammation. The tissue was black she said, a healthy tissue should be supposedly gray.
The visit was sliightlyyyy more expensive. 🙂 I don’t regret it though. Because I got valuable information and I went through 4 shockwave therapies. I cannot assume if it helped cause I kept using my hands to lift up my daughter. I have a friend who suffered the same issue and it helped her.
I got a nice yellow and blue kinesiology tape on my hand, was recommended how to stretch it, how to massage it with a soft ball. And how to strengthen the other healthier hand.
Pills, creams, bandages…
I used pills like Ibuprofen only twice or three times when the pain was really bad. I don’t like to use pills but when I was sick with some cold I used more pain relievers and I must say I loved it 😀 cause even though I felt sick my hands felt almost healthy under the pills. 😀
I used different kinds of creams. Ibuprofen, Aluminum acetate. Canabis cream. The problem is that it didn’t heal anything especially when you still use your hands and have to lift up the baby. Ibuprofen gel worked like a week but I got a bad rash over my hands sooo I don’t use anything right now.
At the very beginning I felt like stretchy bandages are the way to go but very soon I found out that I can use it only at a short period of time cause in order to stabilize the wrist I gotta tighten the bandage quite hard. And the blood wasn’t flowing into my hand :D. So bandages are definitely a wrong way!
Kinesiology tape (k-tape) and a restrictive tape
Tapes for supporting were helping. The k-tape felt nice. There were only three issues: it was hard to put it on by yourself and over the time I developed some kind of eczema, plus the tape got soaked after washing hands. So later I stuck with the more supporting white firmer restrictive tape that I only put around my wrist.
Stretching & Massaging
I was told to do certain exercises but now when I am googling more about this topic I found this guy talking about the issue. It seems he knows what he is doing. I suggest to watch it.
The only thing that helps is to rest the hands as much as possible. You cannot stop taking care of the baby of course but there are ways how you can at least not use the hands that much.
- At the beginning you can use a napper to feed the baby (if you breastfeed you have more possibilities 🙂
- I tried to minimize each carrying, for example I started using floor to change the diapers where the baby was playing so I didn’t have to move it onto the changing table.
- I asked for help my boyfriend, my parents to carry the baby more. Thank god my daughter isn’t too picky about who is picking her up 🙂
- Now I put my daughter in a baby carrier to let her burp after the feeding.
I used the type of brace in the pic above. It supports the inner part of the forearm with a piece of metal. That way you can hardly use/twist your hand. It is good but when the baby is tiny you need a good grip to support the head and hold baby’s thigh. I had to stop using it. Now when my daughter is bigger (about 7 months) and can hold her head, the brace is perfect and I can rest my wrist. Anyway, I am going to look for a different kind of brace which has a softer material.
Adjusting the way of carrying the child
You can hardly change the way how you pick up the child but you can adjust it at least. When my daughter was tiny and she couldn’t hold her head yet I had to support her head and back. What helped was to relieve the weight on my wrist by using more my forearms to lift her up.
Recently I started doing Hatha yoga again. I asked my yoga teacher if I can manage to exercise with this difficulty. I was told that it is doable, that I can alternate certain Asanas or use my fists. I was worried but I was surprised how my hands felt relieved after the first yoga session. As the blood gets flowing, I felt a nice warming feeling in my left wrist which I believe is only a positive thing. I never stretch now the painful part of my wrist.
What are my next steps?
I want to visit a doctor who has already experience with moms like me and get the shock wave therapy again. I would like to visit a hand therapist who understands muscles, tendons, bones in a hand and focus more on the stretching and massaging techniques. And also get a good brace so I rest it once in a while.
Shouldn’t have I done this already? 🙁 🙂
??? Thumbs up! ???
I just made an appointment with a new physiotherapist. 🙂 Yuppiii!
- tendon – a piece of tissue in the body connecting a muscle to a bone