Pregnancy: When you wrist hurts like nobody’s business (All about De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis)

dequervain wrists

If you could name just ONE pregnancy pain, what would it be? For me, my painful wrist wins hands down.

It all started around week 30. That was when I noticed my fingers and hands feeling numb and tight after a night’s sleep. I ignored it and put it down to water retention. When the swelling got worse a week or two l later, I started googling for possible causes. I landed on a page that told me I could have carpal tunnel syndrome.

carpel-tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a build-up of fluid in your wrist tissues, affecting a median nerve which in turn affects your hands and fingers, causing numbness and a tingling feeling. The condition is usually worse in your dominant hand, as is in my case. My left hand didn’t feel as bad as my right, and overall, although it was annoying, the pain was still tolerable.

michelin
My fingers looked like this guy’s but I’m not smiling.

Fast forward another two weeks. That was when I woke up with EXCRUCIATING pain in my right wrist. It wasn’t just the Michelin fingers anymore. The pain in my thumb and wrist was out of control. Every move I made with my right hand was incredible torture. I couldn’t even use my toothbrush or unscrew a bottle cap and it hurt to type cos my hands would be at an angle. And when I abruptly angled my wrist by accident, or when I’m hooking my bra (tmi), the pain was like I was being run over by a truck. I assumed this, of course.

I told myself to tahan cos according to online articles, carpal tunnel should go away after delivery. Just a few weeks more! But no, although I could stand the ache in my fingers and hands, the pain in my thumbs and wrists (yes, my left wrist was starting to act up) was just too extreme to ignore. I bought a soft wrist guard from Guardian which helped for a bit, but the relief didn’t last long.

futoro

The pain was so bad that I knew I had to seek help. Thankfully, someone cancelled an appointment at NUH’s hand and reconstructive centre and there was a slot in two days. I saw Emeritus Professor Robert Pho, who is the most assuring, gentle and kindest doctor I’ve ever met. He diagnosed my primary complaint as De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, since my pain points were really my thumbs and wrists.

dequervain syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome was a secondary diagnosis. Here’s some info about De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (click to read):

De Quervains1

De Quervains2

The medical officer who was next to the Prof suggested a steroid injection which got rubbished promptly. “Non-invasive procedures. Unless absolute.” OMG SO MAN! My then-gynae said it was ok though. Dr Pho ordered a custom splint which basically forces me to keep my wrist straight. The soft, heated plastic is moulded to my hand and becomes hard plastic when cooled:

De Quervains

splint

splint1

When wearing the splint, I couldn’t feel pain since I can’t move. I was supposed to wear this for five weeks BUT of course, when conditions improved, I stopped wearing it. LOL. That’s why I’ll never recover fully fml. At least now it doesn’t hurt that bad. Pain scale of 2/10 as compared to 9.5/10 before wearing the hard splint! The cost of the splint was about $90 and consultation was $130 thereabouts as a private patient. If you get a referral and wish to know subsidised rates (and don’t mind the waiting time), refer to this page.

I thought the pain will go away with delivery. My hopes were dashed when the Dr Pho said it could worsen on the contrary, since I would be carrying Chua Bee Bee. If it gets worse, I’ll be making an appointment to see a TCM specialist.. many mummy readers said TCM worked for them so fingers crossed, literally!

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Other pregnancy posts:

Pregnancy: The big reveal!
Pregnancy: The first trimester scans… I saw an empty womb on my first scan
Pregnancy: The second trimester – harmony test and gender reveal!
Pregnancy: The second trimester – 20-week anomaly scan + gestational diabetes scare
Pregnancy: The third trimester 4D scan – I saw Chua Bee Bee’s cute little face!
Pregnancy: Mount Alvernia Hospital – Maternity Tour & Estimated Bill Size 2016
Pregnancy: Bellybuds! Playing music for your baby in the womb
FY2016 Budget: Is the government giving us an extra $3K into the Child Development Account?
Pregnancy: Why I’m choosing GAIA Natural Baby Organic Skincare for #ChuaBeeBee
Pregnancy: Tips for changing your gynae at Week 35
How to bake your own chunky chocolate lactation cookies
Pregnancy: Week 39 – Low amniotic fluid and an eviction notice!

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