Did you know that ⅓ to half of all women suffer carpal tunnel symptoms during or after pregnancy? It’s a rather overlooked phenomenon. Though researchers aren’t sure of the cause, many suspect it’s a result of swelling due to hormones, similar to the swelling of ankles and feet that’s also a common occurrence during pregnancy.
Symptoms can include:
- Swollen fingers
- A tingling feeling — or sometimes throbbing — in the fingers, wrists, and hands, especially at night
- Difficulty gripping
- Trouble with fine motor skills
- Heightened Risk
Pregnant women who are also obese are especially at risk, as well as women who suffer from gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and high blood pressure.
If symptoms began early in the pregnancy or are particularly severe, they may continue after pregnancy. This can make breastfeeding painful and more challenging, as many mothers tend to cradle the baby’s head with their wrist during feedings. You might try a sling or over-the-shoulder wrap instead.
You might also support your forearms further above the floor than your heart. This can be done with a sling supported by a chair or cord from the ceiling.
The condition usually goes away within weeks or months of giving birth. One about 1 out of 6 women still experience symptoms a year after delivery.
Because carpal tunnel tends to disappear shortly after pregnancy, as well as to encourage more natural breastfeeding for the health of the baby, we recommend a non-invasive approach to treatment. This can include:
- Cold therapy & ice packs
- Wrist elevation (pillows are quite helpful!)
- Wearing a splint, particularly at night
If symptoms do not go away naturally, a more elaborate approach may be necessary. This can include prolotherapy and hydro-dissection with the guidance of an ultrasound, as well as dry needling. Talk to your doctor.