Pregnancy is not just something that occurs in your womb. Your whole body can be affected by the pregnancy process, including your fingers, hands, and wrists. Research shows that nearly half of all pregnant women experience some tingling, burning, and numbness that can impact their day-to-day activities.
At three offices in Sugar Land and Houston, Texas, J. Michael Bennett, MD, PA, serves pregnant women and others who suffer from the uncomfortable symptoms of carpal tunnel. Here he unpacks more information about the condition, why it affects pregnant women, and some practical solutions to get you feeling better fast.
Understanding carpal tunnel syndrome
When your median nerve, which is the main nerve that spans your hand and wrist, is repetitively squeezed, you can develop a chronic condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It gets its name from a narrow passageway--the carpal tunnel--in your wrist that houses that vital nerve and the flexor tendons that are responsible for bending your fingers and thumb.
Telltale symptoms of the condition are:
With carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s not unusual to have quick bursts of radiating pain from your wrist to your fingers.
Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
If you work at a job that requires you to make repetitive movements with your hands and fingers, you’re at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Other factors and causes of carpal tunnel include:
- Broken or dislocated wrist
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Wrist or hand deformity
Carpal tunnel affects women more often than men and can be triggered by pregnancy.
Why pregnancy contributes to carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in women who are pregnant. Up to 62% of pregnant women suffer from the condition. Swelling and fluid build-up from hormonal changes puts extra pressure on your median nerve.
How carpal tunnel syndrome is treated
In severe cases, Dr. Bennett may recommend endoscopic or open surgery. He customizes your treatment options and uses the most conservative methods possible while you are pregnant, including:
- Stretching exercises
- Managing your weight
- Wearing a wrist splint
- Avoiding activities that trigger the condition
- Positioning your hands correctly when you do computer work
- Propping your arms on a pillow at night
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
You’ll be glad to know that in most cases, soon after you deliver your baby, the swelling dissipates, and so does the pain and numbness you feel from carpal tunnel. If you’re pregnant and struggling with the condition, call one of the offices closest to you or book an appointment online.