Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Pregnancy
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is fairly common in pregnancy. It happens mainly in the second and third trimesters. It is the result of a build up of fluid, known as oedema, in and around the tissues in your wrist. This build up of fluid causes swelling, which presses down on the median nerve. This nerve runs from the wrist the hands and fingers. The pressing of this nerve causes numbness, a tingling feeling and can even make it difficult to grip or move your fingers.
If you have experienced CTS in a previous pregnancy, you are more than likely to experience it again going forward. It can also continue post-pregnancy and effect you in the days after your baby is born. Your dominant hand is usually worse off and pain occurs mainly in the morning, as your hands were not stretched or moved much during the night.
Too much weight gain during pregnancy can also increase your chances of suffering with CTS. All the extra weight puts pressure on the median nerve that travels down the ribcage to your arm and then wrist. Along with this, carrying more than one baby is also a factor that may increase your chances.
If your family has a history of CTS, or you have some symptoms of it, you might want to start some preventative and pain relieving exercises to help you cope with it during your pregnancy. A change in your diet may also help prevent too much weight gain, and therefor relieve the pressure put on the nerve.
Cutting down on sugar, salt and fatty foods will help keep any extra weight off. Remember to drink a healthy amount of water and always get in your fruits and veg. By maintaining a balanced diet, you are not only decreasing your chances of CTS but you are making sure that both you and baby have all the best nutrients needed for healthy growth.
Vitamin B6 is a good addition to a diet to help with a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B6 can be found in sesame and sunflower seeds, green vegetables, lean meats, avocados and garlic. These are all delicious additions to any meal, so it really wont be that hard to maintain!
If you are already battling with CTS, there are some ways to reduce the uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
Wearing a splint
Wearing a splint at night will keep your hands straight while you sleep. Curling your hands during the night can often make them stiff and painful when you wake up in the morning.
Wear a good maternity bra
Good maternity bras are supposed to support your growing breasts during and after pregnancy. This will alleviate the pressure and weight put on your back, and ultimately the median nerve.
Hot and cold therapy
Hot and cold therapy can help with almost anything. The BodyICE Small Universal ice/heat pack is perfectly suited to your wrist. It can be filled with ice for cold therapy, or hot tap water for heat therapy. This will help with the swelling, and once the swelling has come down then the pressure on the nerve will be relieved. The hot and cold therapy should also help reduce the pain felt as a result of the CTS. Because of its small, universal size, the hot and cold pack can be used to treat other symptoms of pregnancy and even assist with recovery after birth. It is also the perfect size to treat little kids bumps and bruises, so it is a win-win for the whole family!
There are some gentle exercises that you can do to try and encourage the movement of the oedema in your wrist. This will take pressure off of the nerve.
- Massage your wrist with your other hand, in a circular motion. This will move the fluid around and reduce swelling.
- Stretch your wrists, hands and arms. Remember not to stretch them to the point of pain, but gentle pulling will definitely offer some relief.
If you aren’t able to massage your own wrists, get a professional or your partner to help you. Have them massage from your wrists and hands up towards the top of your arms. They need to carry on to your shoulders, your neck and then focus on your upper back. This is the pathway of the median nerve, and the massage will help relieve the pressure put on this nerve, and encourage movement of the fluid.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is really unpleasant to have to deal with, especially on top of all the other pregnancy gripes. If you have a history of suffering from CTS and you are trying for a baby, or have found out you are pregnant, try and put measures in place to avoid it happening again.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet along with gentle exercise and hot and cold therapy will be the answer to many of your pregnancy sufferings. By doing things naturally and giving your body and your baby everything needed for healthy growth, you are helping yourself avoid certain ailments later on.
Putting measures into place early can help prevent CTS, or even just lessen its effects. Once you feel it starting to play up, do some gentle exercise and stretches and finish off with some hot and cold therapy. These together will definitely help relieve the discomfort and pain. They are easy enough to be practiced at home, and can even be done while sitting watching TV or at your desk at work.
Managed properly, it can be a bearable side-effect and will disappear soon after your baby is born.