de Quervain’s tenosynovitis
In de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, the sheath of the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist becomes swollen. This restricts the tendons’ movement. The result with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is discomfort and pain EVERY time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.
This condition can occur in postpartum women due to the position of the thumb in abduction for extended periods of time while holding a baby. Additionally, prolactin levels in new mothers who are breastfeeding may have something to do with it. Often, if a woman stops breastfeeding, de Quervain’s will disappear.
Your doctor may confirm a diagnosis of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis by doing a Finkelstein test. In this simple test, you bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb. Then you bend your wrist toward your little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, the test is considered positive.
I was diagnosed with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in BOTH hands several months ago. It’s a real pain (no pun intended). Movements like lifting the baby up from her crib, brushing my hair and picking up a pot off the stove are all very painful and aggravate the swelling. My doctor told me to immobilize my wrists and thumbs with braces (yeah, right – try doing that while taking care of a baby), ice it and take ibuprofen. Hopefully, once I stop nursing it will go away. I have no idea when that will be though, so for now I just have to grin and bare it.