CARPAL TUNNEL AND DE QUERVAIN'S - THE 'NEW MUMS WRIST'.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the nerve in your wrist gets compressed by fluid and/or inflammation and this causes nerve symptoms like tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hand.
De Quervain's is when the tendons along the thumb and down into the wrist become sore, irritated and inflamed.
As Ivana from iMove Physio Panania mentioned this happens because of several factors. Firstly when pregnant the body retains fluid, up to 4kg for some women. This fluid occupies spaces like the wrists, hands, and fingers and this puts extra pressure on other structures like the nerves.
Add into the mix that during and after pregnancy the wrists are also affected by relaxing which is the hormone that increases the laxity in the ligaments globally to allow childbirth to take place. This hormone will leave most joints with more mobility, give or stretch.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, your wrist is now doing a new motion potentially 100’s of times a day. Picking bub up and down, holding, nursing, breastfeeding, changing etc. All these movements are new movements which the muscles and tendons aren’t used to. This can cause irritation in a healthy wrist however if you add in the 2 points above of fluid retention and relaxing you have a recipe for sore, irritable muscles and tendons around the wrist.
WHAT CAN I DO?
As much as possible try to be mindful of your technique. Not using the same grip or hand position with every lift or feed can make a MASSIVE difference. You can trial scooping action instead of a wrist curling action. Try to be clever with how you do this throughout the day.
Next up I would definitely recommend a QUALITY wrist brace. One that is comfortable for long periods and one that is OK To get wet and messy. The brace will not lock you in and stop movement but just restrict end of range movements and give you that 5-10% extra support.
Lastly, at this stage you cannot take anti-inflammatory however trying a natural based cream with Arnica or other natural anti-inflammatory properties can help to apply liberally. We like applying this overnight with a light layer of glad wrap over the area to help absorption.
ONCE IT'S CALMING DOWN;
Now that the initial symptoms have settled with reducing your load, changing your lift and bracing it’s time to strengthen. Come through and see a physio for the right exercise for your stage of the condition. We would normally start with an exercise called an isometric. This is a weighted wrist curl without movement but just a static hold. This will strengthen your wrist but also reduce pain and not cause irritation. Once you can get through the isometric exercises without a flare up we have a green light to continue with more traditional exercises to strengthen your wrist.
You can book online at one of our 3 locations here;
iMove Physio Miranda: (https://imovephysio.com.au/miranda/)
iMove Physio Panania: (https://imovephysio.com.au/panania/)
iMove Physio Rozelle: (https://imovephysio.com.au/rozelle/)