Are You a New Mom With Painful Wrists?

It’s not troubled sleep and loud screams that wake you up anymore. As you move your wrists you flinch in pain…as if your wrists are giving away…

Jaya and Vinod (names changed to protect privacy) were excited at the arrival of their chubby little boy. But, their joy was slowly getting clouded with worry. Jaya began to complain of wrist pain, “ouch-ing” at every movement of her right palm. Ignoring her condition, Jaya continued with her new mom’s tasks until her wrist pain worsened and limited the movement of her thumb. She found herself groaning in pain as she lifted her little one, massaged him for bath or wrung his nappies.

Finally, the new dad Vinod had to take a day off work to take Jaya to an Orthopedist.

The doctor gave his diagnosis at the first reference of post delivery wrist pain, “De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis”. Both Jaya and Vinod found the terminology overwhelming and sat agape listening to the Specialist. The doctor advised resting the wrists as much as possible as no other treatment could be recommended to a breast feeding mom. At the nod of the Specialist, the junior doctor scribbled the term for Jaya and Vinod to read, “Decurvens Tenosynovitis”. As Google’s amazing spell check corrected the misspelt name of the Swiss Surgeon whom it is named after, here is what Jaya and Vinod found.

What is Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis refers to the painful inflammation of the tendon sheath in the thumb that extended to the wrist causing extensive pain and difficulty in movement. This condition causes difficulty in moving the thumb in actions like pinching, grabbing or lifting objects. The wrist can also get unpleasantly locked during certain actions. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is a common type of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) or overuse injury. In this condition, the tendons are overused.

Other than new mom’s who can get affected?

It is commonly seen to affect new mothers, writers, dentists, carpenters those who work on computers using mouse or in assembly line work, sporty people and more.

How is Tenosynovitis connected to Arthritis?

Tenosynovitis is seen to develop in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. What makes it different in RA is the presence of joint pain and stiffness along with wrist pain and tenderness.
Jaya was sure that hers was not Rheumatoid Tenosynovitis as she did not have any of the discomforts.

Managing life with inflamed tendons…

…is no fun. Activities which caused pain have to be stopped to avoid permanent injury of the tendons. For those who work under risky conditions, Range of Motion exercises and wrist strengthening exercises are preventive ways.

So, what treatment helped Jaya?

Treating de Quervain’s was difficult. Rest or immobilizing the area is the primary method of treatment. Jaya could not have afforded so much luxury with her baby. Yet, her mother and husband divided some of the other tasks between them.
Ice packs and hot compresses were the next safest home remedies that Jaya could try. She also wore wrist bands at night which to her utter disgust triggered urticaria.
On severe pain, she applied topical pain relievers at bed time and washed them off before feeding the baby. However, it recurred when the tasks which caused the pain were resumed.

Have you been fazed with wrist pain?

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