Parent’s hand pain dubbed ‘Mommy Thumb’ is a lesser known condition of the hand that occurs after having a newborn baby. For many years parents, especially women, have suffered from this problem but have just ignored it, however sometimes the pain is so bad that even the mere thought of picking up the new addition to the family is excruciating.
Commonly known as mommy thumb, Quervain’s tenosynovitis, is usually most noticeable when picking up or putting down the baby. The standard description of the condition is “a sharp pain in the thumb region, and a snap in the wrist area.” The condition is caused by inflammation of the tendons between the thumb and the wrist, which rub against the tunnel that encloses them. The severity of pain is determined by the amount of inflammation that an individual experiences, and how often one moves their hands into that specific position which triggers anything from discomfort to severe pain on the thumb side of the wrist.
Anyone can develop mommy thumb, however a study in 2009 by the University of Colorado found that the percentage of women who suffer from this condition is four times that of men.
Unfortunately there is no way to predict or prevent the development of mommy thumb. The main reason for this is that parents, especially mothers, tend to pick up and put down their children often in excess of 30 times per day, more if one considers those who work with infants on a daily basis.
With this said there are several ways we can prevent their mommy thumb from getting worse.
1. Change the way that the baby is picked up. Instead of gripping the infant under the arms, try to scoop them up from under their bottom. When lifting a child under the arms generally one’s hands form a “L” shape around the baby’s chest and back. This position causes a large amount of pressure to be placed on the tendons between the thumb and the wrist, causing inflammation, explains Dr. John T. Knight; an Orthopedic hand surgeon on Medical News Online.
2. Check the position of the baby during nursing. Some women tend to support their children’s heads with their hands. Such support by mothers can cause both pressure and inflammation to increase in severity, resulting in an exacerbation of pain.
3. Take a break. Applying ice to the wrist on a regular basis, and taking anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve the pain and the pressure that a parent experiences. Remember to always consult your family physician before taking any medications. Also having someone else do the majority of the lifting and carrying of the baby while the pain subsides is a good way to relieve the pressure and give the tendons time to heal.
4. Many parents have found that a splint can relieve the pain of mommy thumb. With a splint, the inflamed tendons are immobilized and therefore can not rub the tunnel that encases them, therefore relieving pain and inflammation.
5. Finally, John T. Knight suggests seeing a physician when all else fails. When all else fails there are successful surgeries that can relieve the pain completely and help to permanently solve the condition.
Have you suffered from mommy thumb? Share your story in our comments section.