Carpal tunnel syndrome and pregnancy

Have you noticed swelling in your wrists or pain in your fingers or hand during your pregnancy?  Well, it may be Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)!

During your pregnancy, you might have noticed that certain parts of your body have swelled or are beginning to swell. The puffiness you’re experiencing is due to your body accomodating to your growing baby. As the uterus grows and expands, your body retains fluid.  This fluid is gravity dependent, so after a long day you may notice that certain places like your legs and feet feel more bloated than usual.

Since the fluid travels downward because of gravity, it can lead to an accumulation in places like the hands and wrist.  The hands and wrists are tiny compartments that contain lots of nerves!  These compartments and the nerves within them can be easily overwhelmed by the amount of fluid due to your healthy pregnancy and cause CTS.  CTS occurs when the median nerve, (a nerve in the upper arm that extends down through the arm and passes through the carpal tunnel within the wrists), becomes compressed by the extra fluid of pregnancy. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway composed of small bones and ligaments within the wrist. This causes pain and other symptoms that may occur in the hand. CTS occurs in 31 to 62 percent of pregnant women.

Symptoms of CTS include:

  • Numbness. Pins and needles feeling that may occur in the fingers, wrists or hands that worsen at night.
  • Motor skill complication. As the fingers swell and pain or throbbing occurs, it can make simple tasks difficult such as holding an object.
  • Swelling. This may occur in the wrists, hands or fingers.

If you notice the symptoms of CTS, speak with your doctor to discuss non-invasive remedies. Your doctor may suggest:

  • Using a splint
  • Applying an ice pack or using cold therapy on the affected area(s)
  • Taking pain relief medication
  • Practicing yoga to stretch and allow the fluid to move
  • Resting or refraining from activities that may worsen the CTS

You may be experiencing some unusual changes to your body throughout your pregnancy or notice more swelling where there wasn’t swelling before. If you are having pain in your wrists or have other concerns about your pregnancy, call your provider and talk about what’s bothering you. Don’t have an OB/GYN to call? Schedule an appointment with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health today by calling 502-588-4400.