Armed & Dangerous: A bout of tendinitis

I wish this post was about my blazing killer biceps…my Popeye arms. Sadly it’s not.  The only thing killer about my arms right now is a fierce bout of tendinitis.

Back in January, I wrote about my postpartum aches and pains (see Jan 7, “War Wounds”) I mentioned a pain in my wrist that I assumed was carpal tunnel syndrome. Months later the pain has worsened. That  fiery burn at the base of my thumb has led to a gnawing pain in my forearm. It is almost unbearable when I first wake up in the morning. At times I can’t move my wrist and at other times it  “cracks” under pressure. Not fun.

After ruling out the possibility of arthritis, my family physician diagnosed it as tendinitis. His prescription? “Don’t use that hand”. Um, does he know my infant daughter needs to be carried around? His advice left me totally unsatisfied. I had to leave with a better solution so I purchased a wrist brace the pharmacy on my way out. Literally retail therapy, LOL. Turns out the brace restricted my hand movement so much that it was too impractical to wear at home every day.

Just when I’d resigned to live with the pain, an angel named Rhonda came to my aid. I call her an angel but her actual title is Registered Massage Therapist. I had booked my mommy group friends a relaxing spa afternoon at Sunny Mummy Where childcare is part of their service. Amen. I would have been very happy with 30 minutes of knot-alleviating neck, back and shoulder rubbing. I was beyond happy when Rhonda offered me actual solutions for my arm and wrist pain. For $60 I left with a treasure chest of advice and an aggressive arm massage that felt like heaven.

Per Rhonda’s advice, I now do daily stretches to help lengthen the tight inflamed tendons that run through my forearms. I use the frozen peas my daughter won’t eat as an ice pack. I try to alternate arms more when holding the little princess. Oh, and I’m wearing that almost forgotten wrist guard as I type. Now if only I had a better benefit plan. I would visit that registered heavenly goddess each week!

Once again, I will save you from a lengthy and unqualified anatomy lesson. But I will let you know this. Based on what I’ve read, tendinitis is  thought to be an overuse injury. That means as long as I have to repeatedly lift and hold my daughter, I probably wouldn’t see any relief from this problem. In fact, it could just continue to get worse. I’m in danger of it affected my grip. God forbid it impair my ability to hold a barbell!

All kidding aside, I’m definitely not keen on having this problem plague me for months to come. I am again reminded of the benefits of supplementary care. Doctors do fabulous work, but sometimes it’s the RMTs, physiotherapists and chiropractors who seem armed with the best methods of care.

Have you experienced problems as a result of all the baby-carrying ? How have you managed the pain?



Filed under Real Life

6 responses to “Armed & Dangerous: A bout of tendinitis

  1. Hey Debbie,

    Your injury is quite common amoung moms. It is called De Quervain’s (based on the location of your symptoms). The issue comes for moms by the way they lift kids-picking them up at the arm pits with the mom’s thumbs to ceiling and then bending at the wrist right under the thumb to do the majority of the lift. Remember the scoop lift I showed you at the seminar? Uses big arm, leg, and CORE 🙂 to lift, not tiny little thumb muscles.

    You are right that tendinitis is tendons screaming from overuse, so you have give the tendons a rest. That means you need to rest that thumb, a thumb spica splint is your best choice to keep the thumb resting. Totally impractical for your day, but forces other lifting strategies that don’t overuse the thumb. A wrist splint alone does not protect the thumb. Hope that helps. Julie Wiebe, PT

    • Debbie King

      OMG thank you thank you thank you for this reply. I suspected it was De Quervain’s but didn’t want to misguide readers in case I was wrong. Thanks for the confirmation. And you’re right, I do lift babe at the armpits. Yikes. I will change my form right away! Once again, supplement care to the rescue 🙂

  2. Pauline

    I experienced “tennis elbow” during Lily’s first months of life, but it was very mild and pretty much took care of itself. I must say, though, Lily is now almost 60 lbs and there are still times that I have to carry her for brief periods (like, if she falls asleep). During these times I am proud to remind myself that I am stronger than I think! lol (Especially when Marcus wants “up” at that time too!)

  3. De Quervain’s and lateral epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) are both very common with parents. They are both treated successfully with a soft tissue treatment method called Graston Technique.

    Here is some information on Tennis elbow (that’s tendonitis on the outside of the arm. [Tennis Elbow](

    Here is more information on Graston Technique:
    [Graston Technique](

    • Debbie King

      Thanks for chiming in Brad. I’ve experienced the Graston Technique as part of ART for my ITB. It was tremendously helpful. I can definitely see how it would work for my arm as well. It’s interesting to know have input from a RMT, a physiotherapist and a chiropractor. Thank you!

  4. Debbie,

    Good job posting this. Ooops! I think I forgot to tell you about this little detail. LOL. My thumb and wrist KILLED after having Ione. There would be this nasty popping in the joint between my thumb and wrist. I went to a specialist who suggested I wear a type of splint to hold my wrist in place. I wore it day and night for a while, until it got better. It did help – a lot! It’s all good now.


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