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How To Manage Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

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How To Deal With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Relief from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy – Dec 15, 2018 – Medica Nova Wellness Studio

This article was co-authored by Karen Litzy, PT, DPT. Dr. Karen Litzy, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, international speaker, owner of Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, PLLC, and the host of the Healthy Wealthy & Smart podcast. With over 20 years of experience, she specializes in a comprehensive approach to practicing physical therapy utilizing therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, pain education, and home exercise programs. Karen holds a Master of Science in Physical Therapy and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Misericordia University. Karen is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and is an official spokesperson for the APTA as a member of their media corps. She lives and works in New York City.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 60,324 times.

When Should I Get Professional Help For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you cant easily shake off numbness, if its severely disrupting your sleep, if youre dropping things, or you cant open jarsor even if you just have questionsits time to get some help, says Growse. If that nerve is compressed long enough and badly enough, the damage can become permanent. Its not common in pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, but if any of the more sever symptoms persist, you might need therapy.

Read more:

How To Deal With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In Pregnancy

When youre pregnant, everything is uncomfortable, and it can be hard to do the most basic daily activitieseven sleeping and breathing! And, sorry, but one more thing to add to the list of Things That Might Bug You During Pregnancy: carpal tunnel syndrome. If youve been waking up with a numb hand at night, you just might have it. Heres the skinny on why it happens and what you can do about it.

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Pregnancy And Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If youre pregnant, you know that pregnancy affects more than just your growing belly. Pregnancy causes changes throughout the body, and carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition associated with it.

In fact, one study estimates that up to 62% of pregnant women have carpal tunnel syndrome. Many women who develop carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy usually begin noticing tingling and numbness in the third trimester, but it can develop as early as the first trimester.

When youre pregnant, your body holds additional fluids, and its not uncommon to experience increased swelling. This swelling can put pressure on the median nerve in your carpal tunnels, producing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Women who work at computers or perform other repetitive hand motions might be at an increased risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly during pregnancy. Furthermore, if you find that youre less active during the final weeks of your pregnancy, this can slow circulation and contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Getting carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy doesnt mean youll always have it. Managing carpal tunnel symptoms during pregnancy can help you control the condition, and once you have your baby and the swelling in your body goes down, it may go away.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel In Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Gets Sleep Relieves Dull Ache Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel symptoms develop when the median nerve, which is responsible for feeling in the fingers, is compressed. The nerve passes through a narrow passageway made of bones and ligaments on the palm side of the hand called the carpal tunnel. Thats where the pressure occurs. The anatomy of a persons hand and wrist, and repetitive movements of the fingers, hand, and wrist may increase the risk of developing CTS. 

What causes carpal tunnel in pregnancy isnt exactly known. However, researchers suspect that swelling produced by hormonal changes may put pressure on the median nerve, leading to discomfort and loss of function. 

Pre-Register for Your Delivery

Around your fifth month of pregnancy, your physician asks you to preregister for your hospital admission by filling out an information card. This card helps to expedite things when you come to the Labor and Delivery Unit at any time. Pre-register now to make your check-in process one step easier.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome And Pregnancy

While pregnancy can bring about many aches and pains as your body goes through continuous changes, carpal tunnel syndrome is a common occurrence. Studies suggest that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of women may experience CTS during pregnancy. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage the symptoms associated with this painful condition. Read on to learn more about how you can manage CTS throughout your pregnancy.

Physical Therapy In New Jersey

Living with joint pain can get in the way of your quality of life when left unaddressed. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we work with you to assess your condition and help you get back to your normal routine as quickly as possible. Whether youve suffered from an injury or youre recovering from a recent surgery, we will work with you to create your unique plan to get you on the right track.

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Cold And Heat Therapy

Using cold therapy, such as applying a small ice pack to the wrist for ten minutes or running the wrist under a cold tap several times a day, may provide relief. 

Alternating heat and cold therapy may also help by bathing the hand in a basin with warm water for one minute, then applying a cool ice pack for another minute. Alternate between warm and cool for a few minutes, several times a day. 

How To Treat It

Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

For pregnant women, developing a condition of carpal tunnel syndrome can be really stressful and unavoidable at times. Before we figure out the ways to treat it, let us find out more about how it may be prevented.

To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it is most important to consume a balanced diet on a regular basis. The idea is to develop and maintain an overall healthy weight. Cutting down on sugar, fat, salt and excess oil may be good to start with.

Having sufficient water to stay hydrated and at least 4-5 portions of fresh fruits as well as vegetables on a daily basis would be good. Including more vitamin B5-rich foods for building up a healthy nervous system also helps. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, salmon fish, garlic, broccoli, hazelnuts, etc., could be a good addition.

In order to reduce the pain when you are suffering from the carpal tunnel syndrome, you could include certain practices on a daily basis. Some of them are:

1. Put your hands in iced water for a cold-compress and relief from the pain.2. Wear hand splints at night, so that your hands do not curl up while you sleep. This would reduce subsequent pain when you wake up in the morning.3. Perform gentle wrist and hand exercises regularly.4. Massage or get someone to massage your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and upper back.

Additionally, the formal treatments or therapies that you could opt for include:

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What Isnt Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Its important that if youre unsure of whether or not youre suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, that you visit your doctor. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome but they require a different course of action to remedy them.

Other possible causes of the numbness or tingling feeling may be related to a muscle, ligament or tendon injury. As the hormone relaxin increases throughout your pregnancy , it becomes easier to over extend your muscles . If you suffer from diabetes or even arthritis, the symptoms for these conditions can be confused with symptoms for carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors will use simple tests such as the the Phalen or Tinel tests to confirm whether or not your median nerve has been affected.

What To Do About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

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Feeling all a-tingle these days? Chances are, it isn’t excitement about the baby it’s pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome, which some studies have shown may affect between a third and two-thirds of moms-to-be. 

Pregnant moms, especially those who work at computers, may begin to notice an uncomfortable tingling, pain, burning and numbness in the wrists, hands and fingers.

Though it’s usually associated with work that requires repetitive motion such as typing or sewing, carpal tunnel strikes pregnant women for a different reason though repetitive motion can definitely contribute to the problem.

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Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In Pregnancy

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and finger.

It’s caused by pressure on a nerve in your wrist called the median nerve.

Symptoms of CTS in pregnancy can include:

  • pins and needles – often in your index and middle fingers
  • numbness – often in your index and middle fingers
  • pain in your fingers and thumbs
  • burning sensation in the fingers
  • weakness of the muscles that control your thumb, which can affect your grip strength

Symptoms may affect both hands. One may be worse than the other. Pain is especially common at night.

Factors Influencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel during pregnancy
  • In non-pregnant populations, carpal tunnel syndrome has been reported to occur more frequently in occupations that involve repetitive activity, forceful work or vibration .
  • In pregnancy, likely causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are hormonal changes and oedema .
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in the third trimester .
  • Pre-existing or gestational diabetes may also contribute due to generalised slowing of nerve conduction but impaired median nerve conduction also occurs in pregnant women without diabetes .

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Pregnancy Induced Thumb And Wrist Pain

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pins and needles in the fingers that buzz when you rest 
  • Numbness in the fingers making it hard to feel seat belt buckles, or nappy tags
  • Achy hands that can wake you up at night and make it difficult to night feed
  • Difficulty finding a comfortable position to nurse the baby
  • Pain and symptoms get worse if spoon feeding the baby in a high chair

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, tenderness and swelling at base of the thumb and wrist .
  • Pain that may radiate up your forearm and is worse changing nappies.
  • Pain when you turn your wrist, grasp or make a fist which can lead to difficulties with picking up your baby, or holding your baby to settle.
  • Difficulties picking up objects where thumb pressure is required e.g. picking up a plate of food or even peeling the tags on nappies.
  • Folding a pram, bathing the baby and cooking e.g. peeling, stirring hurt 

RestSupport the wristModify your activities

  • Avoid repetitive movements such as scrubbing the shower or using sustained positions such as nursing a baby in the same position each time.
  • Carry things with a shoulder bag or over your forearms, not your hands
  • Avoid over-gripping when opening jars or feeding bottles to wash them

Feeding positionHousework and daily activitiesMassageContrast bathingPain relief medicationsExercisesAt Hand Kinetics we use these and other treatments using therapeutic Ultrasound and Dry needling if required.

Proper Posture Goes A Long Way

Because pregnant women who use a computer regularly are highly susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome, relying on proper posture will go a long way in minimizing the effects and discomfort being felt. If an ergonomic keyboard isnt accessible, try to keep wrist as straight as you can while typing. Too much twisting or flexing around your wrists isnt a natural position and adds to the strain experienced during repetitive motions. Sit tall with your elbows raised slightly higher than your wrists, you may need to adjust your chair height to help with this. With this posture, your wrists can drop naturally versus being forced to tilt upwards to compensate for lowered elbows. It may seem like such a small thing to consider but typing a little softer can also help since it requires less movement.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome And Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding may be painful with carpal tunnel syndrome because you use your wrist to hold your baby’s head and your breast in the proper position for nursing. What you should try and do is experiment with different positions. You may want to use a pregnancy pillow or blankets to prop, support, or brace when needed.

You may find that breastfeeding while lying on your side with the baby facing you works well. With this position, you sit upright and place your baby on the side of your arm with your baby’s head close to your torso.

When Will Carpal Tunnel Syndrome End?

You will likely start to notice the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome disappearing after delivery. This is when pregnancy swelling diminishes.

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What Are The Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

8 Best Carpal Tunnel In Pregnancy Exercises / Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In Pregnancy Relief

During pregnancy, your body undergoes many physical and hormonal changes that could lead to fluid retention. This can cause swelling and build up pressure on the carpal tunnel. The increased pressure in the narrow tunnel compresses the median nerve, causing painful symptoms of the condition .

You are more likely to experience the condition:

  • If you have had it in a previous pregnancy
  • Theres a history of this syndrome in the family
  • You have problems associated with the neck, shoulders or back such as a whiplash injury or broken collarbone
  • You are gaining excess weight, which can put extra strain on the ribs, shoulders, and arms. This can happen due to twin/multiple pregnancies, being overweight before conception, and bigger breasts during pregnancy

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also develop due to other issues such as a wrist injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and frequent hand movements while typing or cooking.

Next, learn how to identify this syndrome.

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What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

The carpal tunnel houses nerves and ligaments in your wrist. This includes the median nerve, which runs between the palm of your hand and your forearm and creates sensations in all of your fingers except your pinky. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve gets compressed near your wrist. The compression can be linked to any number of factors, including trauma or injury to the wrist or repetitive motions. 

There are several causes for carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy, including:

  • Pregnancy swelling puts pressure on the median nerve in the wrists and causes the same aching and tingling symptoms most often associated with ergonomic strain and repetitive motion.
  • You may be moving a lot less, which means circulation to your hands and other extremities is sluggish. 
  • Doing repetitive motions that involve your hands and wrists if you work at a desk job may make you more ly to experience this pregnancy symptom.

Typically, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are more acute at night.

That’s because the fluids that accumulate in the lower part of your body during the day are redistributed to your extremities when you lie down, putting more pressure on your nerves and ligaments.

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How To Ease The Pain Caused By The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Following are a few home remedies to ease the pain .

  • Ask your doctor to suggest a wrist brace or splint, and wear it at night. Splints prevent you from curling your hands in sleep and avoiding the stress build-up on the joint.
  • Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on the wrist to relieve the pain. You can also place your hands in ice-cold water for relief.
  • Take frequent breaks between work, especially if it involves moving hands and fingers.
  • Move your hand frequently to improve the blood flow and decrease fluid accumulation.
  • Perform alternative thermal therapy by keeping your hands in cold water and then in warm water for about five to six minutes. It helps reduce the irritation of the symptoms.
  • Place white or green cabbage leaves on your affected hands to drain away fluids and relieve the swelling. Do not wash the leaves, instead wipe them clean, and cool in the fridge before using.

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What Causes Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

If youre familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, you likely think of it being caused by typing for long hours at a computer. During pregnancy, however, CTS can be caused by or, if preexisting, exacerbated by the fluid retention that is common prenatally. If theres fluid accumulation and/or tightness in , the nerve gets squashed first because its the softest structure, says Angela Growse, a physiotherapist at the Rebirth Wellness Centre in London, Ont., who specializes in moms and moms-to-be.

However, because the median nerve runs all the way from the neck, problems further up can manifest in the wrist or hand, says Growse, also a mother of two. As the breasts get bigger, you get tighter, your shoulders round more, youre fatigued, maybe you go into that chin-poked-out position.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can happen at any point during the 40-ish weeks of pregnancy, but occurrences are significantly higher after 32 weeks, according to a study done in the Netherlands.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome When Pregnant


Why does this occur?

Fluid retention during pregnancy puts more pressure on the carpal tunnel. This runs from your wrist to the bottom of your palm. As you are well aware, pregnancy can affect every part of your body, including your hands.

If you are experiencing numbness, tingling or soreness, make sure you talk to your doctor about carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are pregnant, and work at a computer, then you may start to feel an uncomfortable pain in the wrists, hands and fingers.

Yes, it can be due to work that requires repetitive motion such as typing. But it could also be caused by you being pregnant.

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Typically Appears In The Second Half Of Pregnancy

This is different for every woman but you may start to feel symptoms around the 24th week of your pregnancy. It will persist for the rest of the pregnancy and even for a few weeks afterwards. As your body begins to slowly rid itself of excess fluids, the pressure you feel in your wrists will begin to subside. Instead of feeling numbness in all fingers, hands or even arms, the pressure will gradually reduce and the numbness will only be noticeable in your fingers or thumb. Modifying the amount of repetitive motions you undertake is usually enough to help with the symptoms but in some extreme cases, surgery might be required. Unless the discomfort felt is absolutely unbearable, surgery can wait until after giving birth. If theres no change to the discomfort you feel after you give birth, your doctor may determine that surgery is needed and will proceed from there.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is quite literally a tunnel a packed fibro-osseous tunnel located on the palm side of the wrist. Normal pressures in this tunnel are 20-30 mmHg. The median nerve, which runs down the length of your arm, passes through the carpal tunnel to your palm side. The median nerve is responsible for controlling sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers.

When the median nerve becomes chronically compressed, this first will result in demyelination and eventually in axonal death, which will lead to tingling, numbness, and pain in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. This is carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Take Pressure Off Of Your Hands

At night, many of us like to rest our heads on our hands or clasp them between our knees, however this added pressure isnt helpful for relieving the discomfort caused by the condition. With swelling and the added pressure from a body part pressing against your hands, it can aggravate the discomfort felt which can in turn heighten the prickling feeling and numbness. It will take a little training but a quick remedy is to take the pressure off and dont sleep on your hands. You can instead keep your hands and arms elevated with the use of pillows or shake and flex your hands when you wake up to allow for optimal blood circulation. If possible , you can also hang your hands or arms over the side of the bed to help with circulation.

Management Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In Pregnancy

The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

The best treatments for carpal tunnel during pregnancy include: 

  • Using a splint. This prevents bending of the wrist. 
  • Avoiding activities that bend your wrist. 
  • Resting your wrist when you experience symptoms. 
  • Icing your wrist to decrease swelling. 
  • Contrast baths. Alternate soaking your wrist in cold water for a minute to soaking in warm water for a minute. Continue for about five minutes. 
  • Elevating the wrist when possible. 
  • Physical therapy, particularly myofascial release therapy, can help. This is a massage to relieve tightness.  
  • Pain relievers. Acetaminophen is the safest during pregnancy. 
  • Cortisone shot. If symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend a cortisone shot, which is safe during pregnancy. 

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Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel In Pregnancy

We often can diagnose CTS by talking with you about your symptoms and medical history. If your symptoms are severe, we may recommend an electrodiagnostic study to confirm the diagnosis and measure nerve function in the arm, wrist, and hand. An EMG can tell us whether you have nerve damage, how severe it is, and whether it might be reversible with intervention.

The doctor will attach small electrode stickers to your hand and arm in different places and apply low levels of electrical stimulation to gauge the nerve activity. The doctor may also insert a fine acupuncture-like needle in certain areas of the arm and hand to test muscle electrical activity. The study can be a little uncomfortable, but should not cause lasting pain.

Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

Nearly all women experience swelling that may cause carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms in the last trimester of pregnancy. Its unfortunately one of those symptoms you cant do much about, so try to soldier on through until delivery! 

There are steps you can take if youre worried about the risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome while you’re pregnant. Try to minimize time spent doing intensive manual tasks such as typing, sewing or knitting, and take breaks to move around and stretch. No Facebooking or Instagramming for hours on end, either!

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Carpal Tunnel At Night

Carpal tunnel can cause wrist pain at night and wake you up. While youre sleeping, your wrists can bend up or down and press on the nerve. If you shake your hands when you wake up, it usually feels better. Wrist splints can also help, as they keep your wrists straight while youre sleeping and relieve pressure on the nerve.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

Pin on Pregnancy Information

Of all the symptoms women experience during pregnancy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be considered one of the most annoying ones. The onset of symptoms begin to appear during the mid-to-late part of preg

Of all the symptoms women experience during pregnancy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be considered one of the most annoying ones. The onset of symptoms begin to appear during the mid-to-late part of pregnancy and the condition is caused by the rise of fluid levels that pinch the nerves that are found in the carpal tunnel passageway. Unfortunately, symptoms can persist for months after giving birth but rest assured, symptoms do go away eventually. Many pregnant women have reported experiencing numbness in one or both of their hands which is usually accompanied by a prickling pins and needles feeling. Its not exactly painful in the vast majority of cases but is causes some discomfort in the wrists, hands and fingers. It can also result in the inability to grip objects as well as you used to so exercising extra caution during this time is key.

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