New Parents and Wrist Pain
If you’re a new parent, you likely spend a lot of time picking up, holding, carrying and cuddling your baby. As a new parent, you may experience all kinds of unfamiliar aches, pains and tension. You may also notice upper back and neck stiffness from breastfeeding; arm soreness from carrying a heavy car seat; or low back pain from prolonged periods of sitting with your baby. Another one that is common is wrist pain. Our chiropractors at CURAVITA often see new parents who present with wrist pain. They haven’t had a fall, they haven’t had a sports injury and they aren’t putting in extra hours at the office. The only, yet very significant, thing that has changed is that they now have a baby at home. That means repetitive lifting, frequent holding, and sometimes awkward feeding positions. Wrist pain in new parents, not only new mothers, can impact daily activities, work, sleep as well as caring for yourself and your baby.
What is it?
The common terms associated with wrist pain in new parents include new mom’s (or dad’s) wrist and mommy’s thumb. More technically and anatomically it’s called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Tenosynovitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon and its protective sheath. In the case of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, inflammation occurs in the tendons of the thumb side of the wrist. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. It can affect both wrists. However, the dominant hand, or the hand that does more carrying lifting and repetitive movements, is often more affected. As mentioned, this condition can affect mothers and fathers, however, women who have recently given birth may have a greater risk of developing it. Factors such as fluid retention from pregnancy and hormone fluctuations can play a role. However, repetitive lifting, carrying, and holding are the biggest culprits.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of new parent wrist include:
- Difficulty lifting even small objects, like a coffee cup or a glass of water
- Pain near the base of the thumb
- Redness and swelling near the base of the thumb
- Pain that radiates up into your forearm
- Pain when trying to make a fist or pinch your index and thumb
- A feeling of weakness in the affected hand – feeling that you may drop something
How to Treat It and Prevent It
The good news is that most people who suffer from DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis will experience full recovery. There are many conservative treatment options available.
New parent wrist can be prevented. Whether you have not experienced it and want to avoid it, or are currently dealing with wrist pain here are some tips for your everyday living:
Lift your baby with your palm up as much as possible. Try to scoop your baby up by lifting it under their bottom instead of under their arms. This position redistributes the pressure that can aggravate the tendons when you have your hands in an L-shape.
Check and modify your feeding position. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it’s important to keep your wrists and forearms in a neutral position. Support your baby as much as possible with a nursing pillow and other pillows. Use these pillows to support your forearms as well, from wrist to elbow. Think about bringing your baby to you, rather than reaching and leaning towards your baby.
Ice and rest. If you feel pain in your wrist, icing it will help minimize inflammation. Use an icing protocol of 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and 10 minutes on, several times per day. Give your wrist the rest that it needs. Ask for help when caring for your baby. And avoid other aggravating activities such as prolonged cell phone and computer use.
Support your wrist with a splint. External support to the wrist can help keep it in a neutral position. This will prevent aggravation to the tissues which may aid in quicker recovery.
See your chiropractor, physiotherapist, and massage therapist right away. The best way to prevent further progression of pain and inflammation is to deal with it right away. Your chiropractor and massage therapist will evaluate and treat your wrist, elbow, shoulder, upper back and neck as it is all connected.
To all new parents, our healthcare team at CURAVITA is here to help! From pain relief to increased function and posture tips, we’ve got you covered. Call us at 613.860.8600 for our Byward clinic or at 613.237.9000 for our Glebe clinic or visit us online to book your appointment.