de Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Months ago, when I was sharing with my colleagues that I was pregnant, all of my colleagues, particularly my mom colleagues, were very excited for me. The ones who knew that I had dealt with carpal and cubital tunnel warned me about mommy thumb, also known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. They warned me not to throw away my wrist splints (as at that point, I didn’t need to wear them regularly anymore given I had managed to get rid of the daily pain) and to save them in case I might need them after the baby came. One of them told me she even had to start seeing a physical therapist for some relief because the condition nicknamed “mommy thumb” was so painful. I knew I had given myself this when I tried to do a thumb’s up motion on my right hand and completely failed. When I tried to move my thumb in circles upwards, I was feeling an unpleasant popping sensation in the tendons in my wrist directly under my right thumb. And that was when I knew that I had pinpointed my wrist problem: this has nothing to do with carpal tunnel. This was a completely different situation. And in some way as strange as it sounds, I am happy that has it has nothing to do with carpal tunnel because carpal tunnel is a nerve issue. Mommy thumb is a tendon issue, which I am hoping is easier to heal.

New parents are most susceptible to this condition, which is a form of tendinitis in the thumb and wrist. They get it because of the repetitive motions of caring for their babies, particularly in lifting them up using their thumb and pointer fingers. Well, I rarely lifted my baby that way in the last 15 weeks because it wasn’t until relatively recently that she had a decent hold of her head and good neck strength. Instead, how did I give myself this? Well, it all goes back to the same thing that I’ve been complaining about and been frustrated with pretty much since the beginning: pumping milk. All of the hand expression that I have been doing to prime my breasts for my electric pump have ultimately been responsible for not only the numbness in my fingertips, but also this mommy thumb condition. Pumping is also responsible for aggravating my cubital tunnel, simply from the repetitive motion of placing my flanges in the right position on my breasts every day for at least 6 to 7 times a day in the last 15 weeks, as well as doing breast compression while pumping.

Well, the numbness in my fingertips is slowly going away because I have been less aggressive about doing breast compressions… Partly out of laziness, and partly just because I’ve been more gentle on myself in terms of my output. And with mommy thumb, there are very specific stretches and exercises to do to help the condition, and I even just purchased a thumb splint, which is basically a wrist splint with another splint for the thumb. I did a massage that was specific for my wrist, and while it seem to help, it likely gets worse before it gets better. The next day after I did this massage on myself a few times, I felt really sore in my wrist. The specific stretch I found online definitely helps it feel better. And I have been icing my wrist as well.

More mommy injuries. It just keeps coming.

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