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Self-assessed hand and wrist pain and quality of life for postpartum mothers in Japan

02 August 2022
16 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 8



Hand and wrist pain can develop during the postpartum period, may be exacerbated by activities during childcare and may continue for several months, leading to chronic upper extremity disability. Little is known about the impact of hand and wrist pain on quality of life in postpartum mothers.


This study aimed to explore the relationship between self-assessed hand and wrist pain, upper extremity disability and quality of life among postpartum mothers in Japan.


A prospective cohort study was designed for women who had given birth at a general hospital and a clinic in the south of Japan. Participants self-assessed hand and wrist pain using Eichhoff's test and upper extremity disability using the Hand20 questionnaire. General quality of life was assessed with the EQ-5D-5L.


Self-assessed hand and wrist pain was significantly associated with upper extremity disability. Self-reported subjective and induced pain was associated with lower quality of life.


Self-assessed hand and wrist pain in postpartum women can significantly lower quality of life. Reporting subjective and self-induced pain helps diagnosis of and may prevent disability, improving a mother's quality of life.

Pain in the thumbs and wrist in postpartum women, also known as ‘mummy thumb’(Walkinshaw, 2011) and ‘baby wrist’ (Anderson et al, 2004) is a common problem among postpartum mothers (Sit et al, 2017). Postpartum women frequently use their hands and wrists when carrying, breastfeeding, bathing and changing their babies' clothes (Johnson, 1991; Kiyoshige, 1993), and excessive use of the hands and wrists is associated with the onset of pain (Anderson et al, 2004; Afshar and Tabrizi, 2021). Studies on hand and wrist pain assessment in postpartum women have involved self-reports of noticed pain using a telephone survey (Sit et al, 2017), questionnaires administered at infant medical checkups (Satoh et al, 2017) and assessments of pain noted in daily life or experienced in a pain-inducing test by a physician (Skoff, 2001; Avci et al, 2002). There is no gold standard for the self-assessment of hand and wrist pain in postpartum mothers and its impact on their quality of life is unknown.

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