Mothers' painful wrist conditions from carrying babies

June 1, 2012 3:34:42 PM PDT
A newborn baby needs lots of attention, so much so that new mothers sometimes ignore their own health. And one thing that may be a painful bother is mommy's wrist.

Medically it's a tendinitis of the thumb called dequevain's tendinitis, but the term mommy's wrist seems to have spread on the internet as the name for this condition. Handling a twenty pound baby day after day is weight training that can have a painful conclusion. First time mom Margaret Reigersman had to hold her daughter with her hand and wrist extended along her baby's bottom without a proper grip "to prevent the pain from reoccurring." The pain that Margaret was suffering from happened soon after 10 month old Eleonor's birth. She ignored it because of her focus on the baby until it interfered with her being able to care for her daughter. "I was putting her down in her bed and I had lost so much control of my thumb that I was afraid I was going to drop her," said the mother. So Margaret went to Dr. Benjamin Rosenstadt's office and learned that she had tendinitis in her thumbs. The medical name is dequevain's tendinitis. But the doctor learned it was called mommy's thumb. "When women are pregnant, they retain fluid, it's just part of the pregnancy, and with more fluid, everything swells up, including tendons," said Dr. Benjamin Rosenstadt of Riverside Orthopedics. Tendons are white tissues that connect muscle with bones. During pregnancy tendons traveling across the top of the thumb swell up and rub under another thick band of tissue at the wrist. According to Dr. Rosentadt, as the tendons swell up, they become very painful. It was on an internet blog that Dr. Rosenstadt learned that new mothers were calling the problem mommy's thumb. It comes from lifting and holding a ten to twenty pound child all the time. "Believe it or not, the best treatment isn't shots or pill, but rest, keeping the thumb at rest with a splint," Dr. Rosentadt said. Margaret wore the splints but had a lot of pain. A cortisone shot along the tendon reduced the swelling and discomfort. It may, however, take a while for full relief. "Tendons have very poor blood supply and they heal very slowly and it's common for tendinitis to persist and slowly fadeway," Dr. Rosentadt said. Meanwhile, Margaret warns new moms to take care of baby, but also yourself. "Get the help you need because once you get relief, you'll be able to take care of your newborn like you want to do," Margaret said. Sometimes it's hard for new mothers to focus on themselves and the pain when the baby needs so much attention. Another wrist problem that's common in pregnancy is carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve compression in the wrist. If you have wrist pain, see a doctor before simply buying a wrist splint.

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