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"Wrist pain after giving birth?"


I am a 26 year old new mom and have given birth to my first child about a month ago. I notice that my wrists are slightly swollen and it hurts to extend my thumb. I breastfeed my child and it hurts when I hold his head. Could this be tendinitis or a different serious issue? I usually do not have any joint problems.


Wrist pain in the new mother is a very commonly seen problem in the primary care setting, and is most often due to a condition called de Quervain's Tenosynovitis. This condition is also known as "mommy thumb" as it is frequently seen in this population, and it involves inflammation of the two tendons (and their surrounding sheaths) that allow for extension of the thumb. The inflammation is thought to occur as a result of repetitive stress on these particular tendons, in your case from the action of picking up your child, likely with your thumbs in front on the chest and the rest of your fingers behind the body.

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One simple action that you can take to help alleviate the pain and swelling is to wear a specially designed wrist splint, which can be found online. The immobilization of the thumb will allow the healing process to begin. If pain persists beyond this conservative treatment, you can ask your doctor about steroid injections into the tendon sheaths, as this treatment has been associated with good outcomes in a variety of studies.

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