Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a disorder of the hand where the main nerve that runs through the wrist (the median nerve) becomes compressed. The ‘tunnel’ refers to the space at the front of the wrist where the median nerve passes through along with the tendons that flex the fingers and thumb.
Carpal tunnel during pregnancy usually presents in the 2nd-3rd trimester and this is when peripheral oedema (swelling of the feet and hands) is most prominent. The swelling in the hands fill’s up the space in the tunnel putting pressure on the nerve.
The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are usually worse at night or first thing in the morning, and include:
- Numbness and/or pins and needles in the thumbs and first 2 fingers or the hand.
- Aching in the same distribution and up into the forearm
- Weakened grip, in severe cases you may feel unable to hold things like a coffee cup safely
- Can be aggravated by daily activities using the wrist such as typing
Unfortunately, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that comes on during pregnancy is likely to worsen as the pregnancy progresses if not treated. Treatment is aimed at reducing the swelling and taking the pressure off the nerve and can include gentle massage, exercises to move the fluid and splints to wear especially at night time.
Thankfully not all pregnant women suffer from this; estimates vary between 20 and 60 per cent. For most of the women who do experience it, it’s mild and temporary, disappearing soon after their baby is born. Early assessment and diagnosis by your Bend + Mend Sydney CBD Physiotherapist can provide symptomatic relief until it resolves and ensure your hands can be back to full strength by the time your bundle of joy arrives!