Q&A: How Can I Manage My Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Pain?Beth M. Iovinelli, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Question: How can I manage my pregnancy carpal tunnel? Will it go away after I give birth?
Answer: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs as a result of swelling and inflammation in the “carpal tunnel” of the wrist, or the tunnel through which houses ligaments surrounding the nerves of the fingers and wrist. When swelling occurs here, it can cause pressure, weakness, tingling or numbness, and pain in the wrist, forearms, thumb, and fingers. Most discomfort occurs when moving the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. Most people who experience CTS are often engaged in repetitive motions like computer work or playing musical instruments.
CTS can occur during pregnancy. And when some women become pregnant, a previous case of CTS may be exacerbated or may become a condition of pregnancy (with pregnancy there is an increase in fluid all over the body and a tendency for swelling and inflammation). The women most prone to CTS in pregnancy may be the same who are prone non pregnant—those with jobs that are repetitive in nature using the wrists.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy is most likely to occur in the last few months of pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about symptoms you may be experiencing such as swelling, weakness, or numbness. Many women report that symptoms are worse at night when lying down or immediately upon rising in the morning.
To find some comfort from CTS during pregnancy, try these tips:
- Wearing a wrist support
- Using a mouse/mouse pad that provides wrist support
- Using a keyboard that allows for good wrist alignment
- Decreasing activities that may aggravate the symptoms
- Frequent breaks when doing repetitive motions to stretch wrist and hand
- Ice packs
- Massage or acupuncture
- Pain relievers as prescribed by your doctor
After you deliver and begin to get rid of the excess fluid in your body, hopefully you will notice your CTS symptoms disappearing—usually within the first few weeks. If you have symptoms that don’t go away may have had the nerves in the wrist irritated due to the increased pressure as a result of pregnancy. The nerve may remain inflamed. If symptoms do not improve, talk with your doctor about other options for treatment.