What You Should Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands and fingers are quite common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by Carpal tunnel syndrome, and they usually go away after pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling, weakness, and other problems in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. It happens when there is a buildup of fluid (edema) in the tissues in your wrist.
This swelling squeezes the median nerve, that runs down to your hand and fingers and this causes tingling and numbness. This median nerve and several tendons run from your forearm to your hand through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel and the median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers (not your little finger).
Carpal tunnel syndrome will be worse in your dominant hand and in the first and middle fingers, though it may affect your whole hand. It may be particularly painful when you wake up in the morning because your hands have been curled up at night during sleep.
Common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include:
- Tingling or numbness: Usually, the thumb and index, middle or ring fingers are affected, but not your little finger. Sometimes there is a sensation like an electric shock in these fingers. The sensation may travel from your wrist up to your arm and may wake you from sleep.
- Weakness: You may experience weakness in your hand and a tendency to drop objects. This may be due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the muscles in the thumb, which is also controlled by the median nerve.
Usually, mild symptoms can be treated with home care. You could stop activities that cause numbness and pain especially repetitive hand movements and rest your wrist longer between activities. You could also ice your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes once or twice every hour.
Your midwife could also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Wearing a wrist splint at night would help to take pressure off your median nerve but this has to be recommended.
The sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of stopping symptoms and preventing long-term damage to the nerve.
Taking good care of your wrists and hand is important in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome from reoccurring. This includes keeping the wrists in a neutral position, using the whole hands and not just the fingers to hold objects and switch hands often when carrying out repeated movements.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly to stay strong and flexible is also important in preventing the re-occurrence of Carpal tunnel syndrome.
It is important to note that although Carpal tunnel syndrome is quite uncomfortable, it's not usually a serious condition. It normally eases off within three months of your baby's birth because by then, your hormone and body fluid levels will return to normal.