Dr. Hay weighs on suggestions to relieve discomfort from ‘mommy wrists.”
There are a lot of weird and random things that can happen with your body in the postpartum period. While some symptoms get more attention than others, we don’t talk enough about “mommy wrist,” a painful condition that impacts the tendons in the thumb side of your wrist.
Many moms report they have pain or discomfort when doing things like opening jars, picking up their baby, or turning a door knob, but there are a few distinct symptoms to be aware of, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Those include:
- Pain on the thumb side of the wrist that may appear either gradually or suddenly. This pain starts in the wrist and can travel up the forearm, and it’s worse when you use the thumb or wrist.
- Swelling on the thumb side of the wrist.
- A catching or snapping sensation when moving the thumb.
- Trouble moving the thumb and wrist due to pain and swelling.
What causes mommy wrist?
In general, mommy wrist is caused by using the thumb and wrist in a different way than you’re used to. “It can be overuse, new use, or different use,” says David C. Hay, M.D., a Los Angeles-based orthopedic hand and wrist surgeon. “You’re holding your child, they fall asleep, and your hand is stuck in an awkward position, or nursing mothers hold the baby with their thumb out and wrist tilted at an unusual angle.”
If your mommy wrist is really bad and nothing helps, you may need surgery. But, “the need for surgery is rare,” Dr. Hay says. He recommends talking to your provider ASAP if you’re uncomfortable so you can start on a treatment plan that’s right for you.