Carpal Tunnel In Pregnancy
The carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in pregnancy is a relatively common neurogenic disorder experienced by pregnant women. The symptoms of carpal tunnel in pregnancy are often experienced on the last three months of pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compressed median nerve within the carpal tunnel. When this nerve is compressed you may feel pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in your hand and wrist.
The flexor tendons of the hands and the median nerve pass through the carpal tunnel. This inflexible tunnel is generally a narrow tunnel roofed by the transverse ligament called flexor retinaculum and floored by the carpal (wrist) bones.
You may feel tingling and pain sensations in your hand which are more severe at night. The symptoms in your carpal tunnel in pregnancy may be exacerbated by the physical changes experienced by the woman on the later months of pregnancy. Bear in mind that if you only experienced the symptoms during pregnancy then the CTS may be caused only by pregnancy and may simply go away after you give birth.
20% – 50% of pregnant women experience numbness and pins & needles in their hands during pregnancy. When you are pregnant every part of your body seems to swell. This is because you retain a lot of fluid and it can also accumulate in your wrist joints. These accumulated fluid increases the pressure within the carpal tunnel and this pressure may be enough to elicit the different symptoms.
If you’ve got carpal tunnel syndrome you may experience some swelling, weakness and pins and needles sensation in your hand. Once any of these symptoms is experienced, you must see your care provider for the recommended management of this problem.
What to do with your carpal tunnel in pregnancy
The first thing you must do is rest your wrist. Continued use of a swollen wrist in doing tasks that need repetitive wrists motions may worsen the pain. You can rest your wrist by using a splint prescribed by your physician. If your work requires repetitive wrist movements then the wrist splint will greatly help in stabilizing the joint. In this manner, you are helping to control the stress put onto your median nerve by movements.
Although it is known that anti-inflammatory medications such as a local corticosteroids injection are used in CTS patients, this form of treatment is not recommended for an expectant mother. There is a need to avoid any conventional treatmentthat can expose the unborn baby to harm. Instead, try a more conservative and non-invasive CTS managements.
Next, if your work requires you to do a lot of typing on a computer keyboard, then working ergonomics is the key. Yes, your keyboard, monitor, chair height must be arranged as not to put any unnecessary stress on you and on your wrist while you are working. You must maintain a proper body and wrist alignment so as not to aggravate the condition. Keep your wrist in a neutral position, not on a prolonged bent manner. This will help relieve the symptoms or prevent it from happening.
A prolonged flexed (bent) wrist position not only strains your wrist muscles but also add pressure to the already compressed median nerve. This wrist position will worsen the pain and numbness felt in the hand.
You must also take frequent short breaks to relax during the day, stretch and do little exercises to your hands and wrists. This will help relieve the symptoms. You can also shake or flick your hands for relief.
Another conservative yet effective management in dealing with symptoms in the carpal tunnel in pregnancy that you can do is hand elevation. At night you can place your hand on a pillow to allow gravity to drain back the excess fluids from your wrist. This will lessen the pressure the fluid puts on the carpal tunnel. Avoid sleeping with your head on top of your wrist too.
A joint, as such the wrist joint, do have a covering called the synovium. Synovium contain synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. Any excess fluid in a pregnant woman will go to different parts of the body including the synovium of the wrist joint. Since edema of the joint is one of the symptoms in the carpal tunnel in pregnancy , this means the swelling can cause compression of the nerve.
The alternative pain managements also include massage and acupuncture. These are doctors’ advice or recommendations. These alternative managements can be as effective as taking in pain medications which can be systematically harmful to the unborn baby.
All excess fluid, which is the culprit in causing the symptoms in the carpal tunnel in pregnancy, will go away after the delivery of your baby. In addition, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome will also go away because there will be lessened pressure to the inflexible, narrow carpal tunnel. The nerve remains inflamed for a few weeks after your body fluid level returns to the state it was before pregnancy. You may still feel some pain and numbness in your hand for about three months after giving birth but in decreasing intensities. Some women may still experience the symptoms for a year.
If you continue to experience the CTS symptoms and exacerbation of these are noted then you must see you primary care physician to know of other options that you may take to be totally relieved from carpal tunnel syndrome.