Carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy is caused by inflammation and swelling of the nerves of the carpal tunnel cavity of the wrist found in each hand. It is a common condition during pregnancy due to the accumulation of fluids in the tissue of the body.
Carpal tunnel syndrome usually happens during the second or third trimester and continues to develop until giving birth. It affects the dominant hand and the first and middle fingers but it can also affect the whole hand. It becomes painful upon waking up in the morning due to the curling of the hands all night.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tingling sensations felt in the hands, palms and fingers
- Difficulty gripping objects
- Symptoms persists up to 6 months after giving birth
- Change and avoid performing activities that make the symptoms severe. Take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks.
- Wear the prescribed wrist splint to keep the wrist straight prevent it from curling usually at night and prevent unnecessary movements.
- Apply ice packs on the affected wrist for at least 20 minutes at a time. Wrap the packs with a towel or a cloth before placing on the area to prevent further damage. Another alternative is applying cold and hot therapy alternately 3-4 times every day.
- Place the affected hands in ice-cold water for at least 10 minutes at a time or another alternative is using a bag of frozen vegetables that is placed on the painful area in the wrist.
- Elevate the affected hand above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling, inflammation and slow down the flow of blood. When lying down, put the hand on a couple of pillows or a rolled-up towel to keep it elevated.
- Perform gentle exercises for the fingers and wrist to lessen the swelling and inflammation of the area. Clasp the affected wrist using the hand and massage the area in a circular movement to lessen the congestion and prevent the accumulation of fluid.
- Take the prescribed pain medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen to lessen the inflammation and pain.
- Maintain a good sleeping posture such as sleeping on the side or back when pregnant. Avoid clenching the hands but keep in a neutral and relaxed position. Rest the affected hand on a pillow. If there is numbness and tingling sensation, shake the hands until the pain disappears.