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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome And Tingling Hands In Pregnancy

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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a small passage that runs through the wrist connecting nerves and tendons between the arm and hands & fingers. Pregnancy hormones can cause an increase in fluid and a relaxing or softening of the ligaments. For these reasons, nerves in the wrist can become compressed, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

CTS can make the wrist and hand weaker, and cause pain, numbness and tingling through the hand, fingers and arm. You may have CTS if, during pregnancy, you start experiencing:

  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation in fingers
  • Pain in the arm or shoulders
  • Sharp pains darting from the wrist
  • Weakness
  • Dropping things
  • Difficulty gripping, grasping or pinching.

How can I manage carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you’re experiencing CTS symptoms in pregnancy, consult your doctor. They may recommend you see a physiotherapist, or provide you with management strategies for the temporary condition. The following list is not a substitute for medical advice but may help to provide some relief of CTS.

  • Avoid heavy lifting
  • Avoid repetitive motions through the wrist or arms
  • Keep your hand elevated above the level of your heart
  • When sitting, try to sit in a chair with an armrest or something to help keep your hand elevated as much as possible (not just in your lap)
  • Keep the wrist in a neutral (flat) position. Avoid bending it up or down (flexion or extension)
  • Use ice or an ice pack wrapped in a towel to ice the wrist for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours, or as directed by your doctor.
  • Splint the wrist
  • Wear a compression bandage
  • Fluid drainage massage. This involves using the fingers on your other hand to apply some pressure from the tip of your fingers downward – or someone else can do this for you. Never stroke in the direction of the fingers; think about sending fluid back toward the heart.

When will pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome pass?

In most cases, pregnancy CTS should ease after birth. Generally, the issue will resolve itself over time postpartum, particularly with the correct management. Many of your pregnancy aches and pains will die down shortly after birth, so hang in there! When you’re struggling with discomfort, remind yourself to be proud of what you’re achieving by growing a person!

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