Morning Sickness, Swollen Ankles, and…Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Dealing with Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

As a team of dedicated orthopedic surgeons, we hope to shed some light on a common problem that many expectant mothers deal with: carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. This surprising side effect of pregnancy is usually temporary, but it can cause significant challenges for pregnant mothers who already have enough on their plate! Fortunately, there are ways to manage and alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome to help your pregnancy go a little smoother. Let’s dive into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available to help you better understand and cope with carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist where the median nerve and tendons are located. Increased fluid retention can cause this area to become compressed or inflamed, leading to a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome (often referred to simply as “carpal tunnel”). During pregnancy, women typically experience significant fluid retention and swelling and are therefore at greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

Pregnant women with carpal tunnel syndrome may notice symptoms such as:

  • Numbness or tingling in the wrist, hand, thumb, index, middle fingers, and ring finger
  • Hand weakness
  • Pain or discomfort that may radiate up the arm
  • Difficulty gripping objects or performing tasks that require fine motor skills

Pregnant women who recognize these symptoms early on should seek proper medical guidance for effective management.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help alleviate the discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. Here are some of the approaches we recommend:

1. Wrist Splint: Wearing a wrist splint can help keep the wrist in a neutral position, reducing pressure on the median nerve and providing relief from symptoms.

2. Hand Exercises: Gentle exercises and stretching techniques introduced by a healthcare provider or physical therapist can help improve hand mobility and reduce stiffness. We can coach you on specific exercises and stretches that you can do to help ease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy.

3. Modified Activities: Adjusting certain activities or work tasks to minimize repetitive hand movements can help reduce strain on the wrists. Avoiding certain repetitive tasks may be recommended if your symptoms are especially pronounced.

4. Cold Therapy: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome for whom conservative measures do not provide sufficient relief, it is not uncommon to receive corticosteroid injections or even undergo surgery to relieve symptoms. However, because carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy usually subsides shortly after childbirth, it’s usually recommended to embrace conservative treatments and avoid more drastic treatments (like surgery). If these conservative measures do fail to provide relief, we can discuss other treatment options with you on an individual basis.

At our practice, we understand the difficulties that carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy can pose for expectant mothers. We hope that the information here has helped you understand more about this condition and how to manage it. We can help you treat your carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy so that you can enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy and focus on preparing for the arrival of your little one.

If you are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy, we encourage you to reach out to our team for personalized care and guidance. Your comfort and well-being are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (714) 538-8549 or contact us online today.