Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy and how to relieve pain

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Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy is common and can be painful. But here are some tried and tested remedies to relieve pain.

At first, it was the morning sickness, followed by the continuing bouts of pregnancy nausea, then the exhaustion and just when you thought you wouldn’t get anymore surprises during the pregnancy, you feel this piercing pain in your wrist. This is carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

Source: Public Domain Pictures

Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy, or CTS, is caused by the build up of fluid in your wrist. This causes swelling, which squeezes your median nerve. The median nerve runs from your wrist down to your hands and fingers. When it is swollen, it may cause a tingling sensation, numbness or pain. 

One of the results of that is that you might feel a weaker grip or it is harder to move your fingers at certain angles. While CTS typically occurs during the second or third trimester, it is not uncommon to also feel it during the first trimester. 

The pain might feel worse  in the mornings when you just wake up as you might have had your hands curled at night or have slept on it wrongly. 

CTS may be an uncomfortable condition but not one that is incurable. In fact, it typically goes away on its own after delivery and your hormones go back to normal. So yay, at least you can look forward to that!

But before all of that, you might want to relieve some of the pain (because let’s face it, we already have enough to deal with during pregnancy that we don’t really need ANOTHER thing to hold us back!). 

Relieving the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

carpal tunnel syndrom during pregnancy

Source: Pixabay

Even as I am typing this right now, I am pregnant with my first child and one of the first symptoms I am experiencing is carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy!

Doctors say this is not permanent. No painkiller or anti-inflammatory can help right now – not that we should be popping pills during pregnancy anyway!

So here are some home remedies and alternative treatments you can seek to relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. 

1. Stick to a balanced diet as much as possible

One of the reasons for the swelling and build up of fluid is due to weight gain and hormonal fluctuations. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy is never a good thing. So to prevent too much weight gain and the worsening of the CTS, it is best to cut as much salt, sugar and fat as possible. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water. 

2. Try icing your wrist

Icing your wrist with a packet of frozen vegetables could help bring down the swelling. Do this a few times a day to assist with the pain. After each icing session, be sure to stretch out your wrist and hands. 

3. Acupuncture

carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

Source: Pixabay

Acupuncture is one of the most effective ways to relieve pain for carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. However, this is not a quick fix. Acupuncture requires time to work, often only proving effective over a few rounds of acupuncture. Go consistently to see the best results. Acupuncture is generally safe for pregnancy, but always do let your practitioner know if you have any concerns. 

4. Wear a wrist brace

In our hot and humid climate, wearing a wrist brace all the time might not be ideal. However, if you want to reduce movement in your wrist and prevent long term pain, wearing a wrist brace can help relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy. Many women will find the pain at its worst when they wake up in the morning. This could be due to sleeping in the wrong position or accidentally sleeping on the wrist. Wearing a wrist brace to sleep will address this issue. 

5. Practice wrist exercises

If you are putting too much strain on your wrist, from using your mobile phone too much or typing on your laptop, then take frequent breaks and stretch out your wrist. Practice wrist exercises from time to time to loosen the joints and also relax the muscles and nerves in the area. 

6. Elevate your hands whenever possible

carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy

Source: Pixabay

Sometimes, the pain from carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy could be due to fluid retention. This can cause a minor swelling internally, which can result in pain in the wrist. Elevating your hands can help with blood flow and water retention to reduce swelling and pain. 

7. Apply numbing cream

This is not a long-term solution and it is not advised to apply numbing cream too often, but if the pain gets unbearable, you can try applying numbing cream to get through the pain. 

With all of these remedies to try, it’s worth giving it a shot to see if you can relieve some of the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy!

Read also: Hormones in pregnancy and their functions

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Written by

Sarah Voon