Let’s talk Wrist and Hand pain in Mums…it is such a common issue! In fact more than 50% of new Mums experience hand or wrist pain. The most common diagnoses are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Do you know anything about these?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition where the contents of the ‘tunnel’ at the front of your wrist (there are nerves, blood vessels and tendons that go through it) are compressed. This often occurs in pregnancy because the increased fluid circulating in your body causes the already narrow tunnel to be even narrower.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel syndrome can include numbness (usually in the thumb, index and middle finger), pain and weakness. They usually come on when the wrist is held in a flexed/bent position, where the carpal tunnel is compressed further.
A common time to get these symptoms is at night because lots of us have a tendency to sleep with our wrists curled forward – and therefore pregnant women can experience this tingling and numbness on waking.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (also known as ‘Mum Thumb’ because it’s so common in the early postnatal period!) presents as pain on the side of your wrist at the base of your thumb. It occurs because of an inflammation of the sheath around the tendon there, during movements where your wrist moves laterally up and down, especially under load.
This is thanks to a sudden onset of repetitive load with lifting, pushing prams, holding, settling etc etc etc. Plus our joints and ligaments potentially having some increased laxity or sensitivity left over from pregnancy… it’s a perfect recipe for these issues to occur!
What can I do if I start to feel wrist pain?
Step 1: Catch it Early
The first step is catching the pain early, and modifying the way you are doing certain daily tasks.
For starters, here are some photos of me and baby Benji showing alternative ways of holding him that put less pressure on my wrists and more on my forearms. By consciously holding and lifting in ways that keep your wrists in ‘neutral’, you may decrease the amount of strain on the structures around the wrist.
In our exercise classes and videos, we often give alternatives for those with wrist pain like weight bearing through forearms or fists instead of on flat hands, which sometimes can help.
Step 2: Baby Wearing
Also – babywearing is a wonderful way to decrease the load on our arms and wrists. We highly recommend checking out your local baby wearing association for meet times and resources! Plus, did you know that there is a whole online package that we've created for you to purchase called ‘Baby Wearing & Exercising Around Your Children’ on the FitRight Membership?
Step 3: See a Physio
A physiotherapist can definitely help you with management of both of these hand and wrist issues – with a big part of the management strategy being assessing your movement strategies, and the use of splints to wear on your wrist/thumb to stop movement of the aggravated joint/tendon occurring. You can make an appointment at FitRight HQ for a musculoskeletal appointment here.
There are OT’s and physiotherapists who specialise only in hand and wrist pain, and are able to make customised splints to help. If your FitRight physio determines that you need more specialised management, this is the next step.
The bottom line is – early management is key to prevent little issues becoming big issues, and I love sharing this sort of information with you all so that you can be as empowered and proactive as possible.