The Bad Case of Mommy Thumb
Before giving birth, I worried about the stuff you typically associate with having a baby like: stretch marks, breastfeeding, weight gain and other TMI-type stuff. Luckily, I came out fairly unscathed–if you don’t count the two days of torturous preterm labor, lol. However, the one thing I would have never thought of worrying about were my thumbs. Thumbs?! It sounds ridiculous, but let me explain.
Carrying a baby, breastfeeding, changing diapers, picking up the baby, putting the baby down, rocking, swinging, basically anything associated with taking care of an infant requires for you to use your hands, wrist, and yes, even your thumbs...coupled with countless hours of texting and scouring the Internet to help keep you up during late night breastfeeding sessions (I’m sure most moms can relate), and you just may find yourself with a bad case of Mommy Thumb.
When I first started experiencing the pain, it only made sense for me to wear a brace to support my wrist. The pain only heightened so I tried turning to acupuncture to find relief. Weeks of treatment turned out to be of little avail. I soon learned the pain was stemming from movement associated with my thumb so I got a spica to stabilize my thumb, but not using your hands when you have an infant is impossible! I considered steroid shots, but I received differing opinions from healthcare professionals and friends alike, so I decided to wait and try allowing it to heal on its own. Other moms I spoke to all seemed to have experienced similar pains, so I only assumed it was normal.
Weeks passed and of course the continuous use of my wrist and hands caused the pain to worsen. My wrist would swell up and bruise and even feel numb and tingly. I could no longer move my thumb, without experiencing EXCRUCIATING pain.
I was finally referred to a hand surgeon who diagnosed me with De Quervain's tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis). Basically, it’s a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist causing it to hurt when you turn your wrist or try to grasp anything using your thumbs. This modern malady caused by the physical stress of parenthood and further exacerbated by overuse of electronic devices, is often referred to as “Mommy Thumb” or “Mommy Wrist” (The irony as I write this post on my iPhone).
After looking over my x-rays, I soon learned that I had allowed my wrist to become so inflamed that the chronic stress has caused the tendons along my wrist to degenerate, resulting in over a dozen micro tears. The doctor administered a corticosteroid shot (which was not a pleasant experience) to help reduce the inflammation, but warned that because my case was so severe, it would not bring complete relief and that I would most likely need a second shot (already scheduled for the end of this month). If all else fails, I would need surgery.
Surgery?!! ummm.. no thanks. I guess that was all it took for me to finally realize all the cooking, mommy duties and having my phone glue to my palm needed to stop. I left the doctor's office with a huge, ugly brace—sure to make any outfit look uncool, but I knew that if I wanted to avoid surgery, I needed to allow my hand to completely heal. With that, I decided to take a break from the kitchen for at least the next month or so and focus on recovering. Hence the lack of activity on all social media. Eating out hasn't been the best for my postpartum physique, but already I am starting to feel more mobility in my wrist and thumb without shrieking in pain. I've also had to make adjustments such as nursing positions and ultimately learn to ask for help from others whenever I can. I think the hardest part was trying to do everything on my own and learning that it's okay to ask for help every now and then (it really does take a village).
So I hope this answers the question as to where I've been and yes, I do plan to resume cooking once I'm better, so please bear with me until then! In the meantime, I wanted to share some tips on how to avoid Mommy Thumb, for all you new moms. (And dads too--My husband actually began feeling pain in his wrist now too!) And for all you tech saavy folks, it's just as possible for you to get "Blackberry Thumb" from over texting and using electronic devices with touch pads!
But whatever the case....
THE KEY IS RECOGNIZING THE PROBLEM EARLY.
5 WAYS TO PREVENT DE QUERVAIN'S:
- Avoid the ‘L’ position of your thumb and index finger.
- Use your index finger to scroll and browse through your phone.
- Ice your wrist and thumb whenever you feel any symptoms.
- Stabilize your thumb as soon as you feel pain
- Ask for help when you can. I learned this the hard way!
Believe me, this is not something you ever want to suffer from! Hoping this post can help others avoid this painful condition 🙏🏻