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Mommy Wrist: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

Medically reviewed by : Jason G. Patton, MD | November 7, 2023

Motherhood is a beautiful journey filled with joy and love, but it can also come with its fair share of physical challenges. One such challenge is commonly referred to as “Mommy Wrist” or De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. This condition can cause discomfort and pain in the wrist and thumb area, making everyday tasks like lifting your baby or even holding a bottle a painful experience. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and practical solutions to help moms dealing with this common issue.


What is Mommy Wrist?


Mommy Wrist is a condition that primarily affects the tendons around the base of the thumb. These tendons become irritated and inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort in the wrist and thumb area. It’s a repetitive stress injury that often occurs due to the frequent and awkward hand positions involved in caring for a baby, such as lifting, holding, and nursing.


Symptoms of Mommy Wrist


The symptoms of Mommy Wrist can vary in severity but often include:


  • Pain at the base of the thumb and along the wrist’s side, particularly when grasping or twisting objects.
  • Swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
  • A “catching” or “snapping” sensation when moving the thumb.
  • Weakened grip strength, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.


Causes of Mommy Wrist


Several factors contribute to the development of Mommy Wrist:


  • Repetitive Movements: The frequent lifting, holding, and repetitive motions associated with caring for an infant can strain the wrist tendons.
  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy and postpartum hormonal changes can affect the soft tissues, potentially increasing the risk of inflammation.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to conditions like De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis.


Tips for Managing Mommy Wrist


The good news is that Mommy Wrist is a treatable condition, and there are steps you can take to alleviate the pain and discomfort:


  • Rest and Immobilization: Resting the affected wrist and thumb is crucial to allow the tendons to heal. Wearing a splint or brace can help immobilize the area and reduce strain.
  • Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the painful area can help reduce inflammation and provide relief. Be sure to use a cloth or towel as a barrier between the ice and your skin.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as recommended by your healthcare provider, can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide exercises and techniques to strengthen the wrist and improve range of motion.
  •  Lifestyle Adjustments: Be mindful of your hand and wrist movements. Use proper body mechanics when lifting your baby, and try to distribute the weight evenly between both arms.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.
  • Surgery: Surgical intervention is rare but may be considered if conservative treatments do not provide relief.

Mommy Wrist does not have to be a constant source of discomfort. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing the recommended solutions, you can take control of your wrist health and continue to enjoy the precious moments of motherhood.  If you’re experiencing persistent pain or have concerns about Mommy Wrist, the Hand and Wrist team of the Orthopaedic Institute of West Kentucky is here to support you. Contact us today for more information.