What To Do
Lift baby differently.
If you're feeling some discomfort, perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prevent further irritation of the wrist tendons is to modify how you lift your baby, says Dr. Carlson. "Instead of picking your baby up under the arms, try to scoop him up by lifting under his bottom," she advises. "Keep the palm of your hand up." This redistributes pressure that can aggravate the tendons when you lift with your hands in an "L" shape (with your fingers on baby's back and your thumbs on his chest), a position that puts most of the strain on your thumb and wrist.
Check your breastfeeding position.
Various nursing positions could put strain on a mother's wrist, especially when inflammation is already present. "Many women cite breastfeeding to be irritating, so if you're nursing, be careful to use a pillow for support so that the full weight of baby's head isn't resting in your hand," Dr. Carlson recommends.
Rest your wrist.
Icing your wrist frequently and taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can be helpful, according to Dr. Auerbach. (If you're breastfeeding, check with your doctor before taking any medication.) If possible, have your partner do the majority of lifting and carrying baby to give your wrist ample time to heal. Additionally, try to limit smartphone use whenever possible. Sliding, scrolling and tapping away on your iPhone isn't likely to be the cause of the problem, Dr. Carlson says, but any overuse of those already-inflamed tendons is just going to compound the pain and prevent proper healing.
Try a splint.
A spica splint that immobilizes the thumb is extremely effective in helping to reduce swelling of the tendon and therefore easing discomfort, says Dr. Auerbach, "especially if it's used early." Because Chakir began treatment with a splint almost immediately, her pain disappeared almost as fast. Generally, patients will see improvement with splint use after just a couple of weeks, but consistency is key (the immobilization does make everyday tasks more difficult, so it takes commitment to stick it out).
See a doctor.
If the pain persists after you've tried a variety of self-treatment remedies, make an appointment with a hand specialist, who may suggest either a cortisone (steroid) shot or physical therapy. In rare, very extreme cases, such as Kanowitz's, surgery is necessary but it is usually a permanent fix.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.