It is common for pregnant women to experience pain, numbness, and tingling in their hands during the final trimester of pregnancy. In most cases, these symptoms indicated carpal tunnel syndrome and will disappear after the pregnancy. There are a lot of remedies that you can try to relive the symptoms.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
The term carpal tunnel refers to a bony canal that is formed by a ligament that runs on one side and wrist bones on the other three sides. During pregnancy swelling and fluid retention are common and this will increase the pressure within the inflexible and narrow space of the carpal tunnel. This in turn compresses the median nerve which runs through it.
The median nerve is responsible for providing sensation to half of your ring finger as well as your middle finger, index finger, and thumb. It is also responsible for the movement of a muscle found at the thumb’s base. Because of this, the pressure on the nerve will lead to the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
Although carpal tunnel symptoms tend to be worse at night than during the day, they can also affect daily activities. Common symptoms include a burning or tingling sensation (or the feeling of pins and needles) on the inner portion of the ring finger closest to the thumb as well as the middle finger, index finger, and thumb. It is also possible to feel these symptoms in the entire hand. You may also feel pain in your thumb and fingers; an aching in your upper arm, forearm, and hand; weakened grip; swelling or dry skin in the affected thumb and fingers; or numbness affecting the fingers or palm.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if your numbness and pain are interfering with your daily routine or sleep and always do so before you take pain medication. In some cases your doctor may suggest that you wear a hand brace or wrist splint as both of these treatments have helped those with carpal tunnel syndrome. In cases where your symptoms are severe and constant (including loss of sensation, muscle weakness, or numbness) your doctor will refer you to a specialist.
Watch to learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in pregnancy: causes, symptoms and treatment measures
How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
1. Avoid Triggers
Take the time to determine what activities aggravate or cause your symptoms and do your best to avoid them. In some cases you can change your actions in order to reduce the symptoms. An example would be adjusting your chair height so when you work at a computer your wrists won’t bend downward. In some cases using an ergonomic keyboard or hand or wrist brace can help as well. Always take short breaks so you can stretch your hands and move your arms.
2. Maintain Proper Sleeping Position
If you experience carpal tunnel symptoms at night, try using a brace or splint to stabilize your wrist, keeping it in a position that is neutral. This will slightly widen the carpal tunnel. You should also try not to sleep on your hands and do change sleeping positions if you feel twinges. You can also try propping your arm up on a pillow. If you experience pain or numbness when waking up, shake your hands until it goes away.
3. Have More Vitamin B6
Consuming more foods that are rich in vitamin B6 will promote the health of your nervous system. Excellent sources include fish (such as salmon), avocado, lean meats (like lamb and pork), hazelnuts, garlic, dark green vegetables, sesame and sunflower seed. Always talk to your doctor before you take a vitamin B supplement as they will tell you the proper dosage.
4. Try Herbal Remedies
In some cases you can reduce inflammation by drinking chamomile tea. Another option is to place white or green cabbage leaves on top of your wrists as this will relieve swelling by drawing out excess swelling. Never freeze the leaves and wipe them clean, but don’t wash them. You can wrap the leaves to make a compress and leave them on until they start to moisten at which case you should swap them for fresh leaves.
5. Massage, Yoga and Other Movements
Massage your wrist with your opposite hand using a circular movement as this will reduce congestion, encouraging the fluid to move. You can also gently stretch your arms and hands but never do anything that is painful. Sometimes hanging your hands over the bed at night will help. Yoga can help reduce chronic pain by balancing, stretching, and strengthening you joints. This in turn can improve your grip strength.
6. Try Aromatherapy
Certain essential oils including lemon and cypress can be part of a compress that is effective at reducing swelling. Simply add two drops of the oils to water and then soak the cloth before wrapping it around your wrists. Never use juniper berry oil during pregnancy as it can affect your kidneys.
7. Seek Professional Help
You can seek relief by finding a registered and qualified massage therapist, aromatherapist or reflexologist for personalized treatment. They can conduct massage, acupuncture or acupressure to relive the uncomfortable symptoms.
8. After Giving Birth
It is possible for carpal tunnel syndrome to gradually go away after you give birth. If your symptoms continue even after giving birth, tell your doctor at a postpartum visit and he will recommend an orthopedist if he feels it is necessary. In some cases the specialist will recommend anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen) or splinting.
In cases where conservative treatments aren’t effective, they may recommend cortisone injections. In some severe cases, they may also recommend a simple surgery that will reduce the pressure that is acting on the median nerve.
How to Breastfeed When Suffering From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Try to support your baby in a way that won’t bend your wrist. Use a footstool, folded blankets, or bed pillows to help.
- Try using a baby sling.
- Breastfeed while lying down but keep notice of your wrist position.
- Use a wrist brace that keeps your wrist in a neutral position during breastfeeding.
- Many people have said that the cross cradle hold can worsen carpal tunnel symptoms so avoid this hold whenever possible.