Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Pregnancy | Aches & Pains Series
Backaches and sore feet from an expanding uterus and carrying additional weight is expected by most pregnant people, but carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy? Nope! The possibility of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placenta previa, sure! But, most people never consider (CTS) carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy. Let’s discuss this topic in this “Aches & Pains of Pregnancy” series.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy?
CTS is a condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, burning, as well as other symptoms in the hand and forearm. Carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy happens with the median nerve in the narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist is compressed or entrapped. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding CTS in pregnancy. Additional hormones, water weight, as well as increased blood volume in pregnancy are thought to be partly responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy. Of course, how we’re using our hands, wrists, and arms prior to and throughout our pregnancies could be part of the problem as well.
Whose at risk?
Anyone really, but people with jobs, hobby’s or sports requiring repetitive motion are at an increased risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in pregnancy. One study concluded that the prevalence of CTS is relatively high in pregnant women. Several studies have looked at whether there is a correlation between computer use and carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy. However, the evidence is conflicting and these factors haven’t been established as a direct cause. Women are more at risk than men in general, go figure. Those who’ve fractured their wrist or have suffered nerve damage from diabetes are at a greater risk for CTS. If you have arthritis it puts pressure on the median nerve, again increasing your risk. Your weight, thyroid, and kidneys can all have a bearing on CTS in pregnancy.
What are the warning signs or symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy?
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy don’t usually come on full-force, they typically start gradually. It often begins as tingling and or numbness and comes and goes it can be in your fingers and in your wrists or both, rarely in your pinky finger though. The palm of your hand may ache or hurt. You may find yourself shaking your wrists out to relieve the pain or discomfort. You’ll likely experience some weakness in the hand and may drop things.
What can be done about it carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy?
Rest your arms frequently. Ice them for 20 minutes at a time. Very gentle massage with lotion or oil. Avoid or limit tasks or hobbies with frequent repetitive motion if at all possible. Seek a doctor’s note if your job is requiring you to perform tasks that are exasperating the discomfort. You should report any discomfort in pregnancy to your care providers, CTS is no different. Your care provider will tell you what you can take by mouth to help with the pain. It’s possible that permanent nerve damage can occur, but isn’t as common. In almost all cases CTS improves tremendously by six weeks postpartum, by one year postpartum it’s typically relieved entirely. There are cases where surgery can help if symptoms persist beyond one to three years.
Carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy is definitely not what we think we’re signing up for, but unfortunately, sometimes it sneaks up on us.
If you’re experiencing CTS in pregnancy you may seriously want to consider having help after your baby is born. Most of the time it starts to relieve itself shortly after you give birth, but it’s not unheard of to experience weak hands or arms which can effect the ability to hold your baby safely. Diaper changes, buckles, and straps are another area of concern when your fingers and hands aren’t functioning as they should. At The Jax Baby Company, we offer daytime, nighttime, and weekend hands-on help and support! We’re just one email, call or text away, (904) 924-4182!