Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Other than the extra weight of your baby, there are other ways pregnancy can be uncomfortable. You might have to deal with morning sickness, swollen legs and even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

What Is CTS?

The Carpal Tunnel is a narrow passage, where tendons, nerves and blood vessels pass through. CTS occurs when swelling occurs at the tunnel, and the Median Nerve is compressed, which results in pain or numbness in the fingers.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) During Pregnancy

CTS is a common discomfort during pregnancy. A 2015 study estimated that CTS occurs in 31% – 62% of pregnant women. Another study in 2012 found that CTS is more common during the second and third trimesters, becoming more severe as the age of the pregnant mother increases. If you had CTS in one pregnancy, it is highly probable that you will have it again in the next pregnancy.

Pregnant mothers’ bodies go through many hormonal and physical changes, causing the body to retain more fluid. When the extra fluid causes the wrist to swell up, it  puts pressure on the Median Nerve, causing CTS symptoms.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

The symptoms may appear in one or both hands, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms are usually worse during the early morning and at night. Common CTS symptoms include numbness, tingling sensation, dull ache, pain, swelling, pins and needles in the fingers, wrists and hands, hot fingers, and difficulty gripping objects. If you have trouble or pain when shampooing your hair, fastening buttons and constantly dropping items, you might have CTS.

How to Reduce the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?

Although it is not considered a serious medical condition because it is mostly tolerable, here are some ways you can manage and reduce your symptoms.

  1. Rest – Avoid overusing your hands, which would aggravate your symptoms. Reduce non-essential activities and rest your hands and wrists on a pillow whenever possible.
  2. Ice – Apply ice pack on the painful area, or you can also run your hands/wrists under cold water for 10 minutes.
  3. Elevation – Keep your forearm and hand elevated, by placing a pillow or rolled towel underneath, when you are resting or sleeping, to help reduce swelling.
  4. Wrist Splint – You should wear a wrist splint when you are resting, especially overnight, to help support your wrist and keep it neutral. You would have to wear the wrist splints overnight, for at least 4 weeks before you start feeling better.
  5. Exercise – While rest is important, you should also exercise your hand and wrist to improve circulation and decrease swelling.

Doctors may recommend steroid medication injected directly to the carpal tunnel area, for pain relief and to reduce swelling. Your CTS symptoms should gradually get better after childbirth as your hormone and fluid levels return to normal. Try the practices above to feel better. Do consult your doctor about your symptoms if it continues to persist even after childbirth, worsening and disrupting your day-to-day functionings.

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