Q: What is carpal tunnel syndrome and why is it prevalent during pregnancy? Will it go away after I have my baby?
A: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common affliction among those whose professions require them to use their hands a great deal, especially at jobs that require repetitive movements. It frequently occurs during pregnancy because of the body’s tendency to retain fluid. When fluid retention causes swelling in the hands and wrists, a key nerve is compressed, causing a tingling sensation, numbness or even a sharp, painful feeling in the hands and wrists or even further into the upper arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is uncomfortable and can be frustrating, but making simple modifications to your daily routine can help alleviate your symptoms. For example, if you work at a job that requires you to sit at a computer and type for long periods of time, try sitting in an upright position that allows you to rest your hands comfortably on the keyboard without a downward bend at the wrists. If you have an even more hands-on job, talk to your boss about adjusting your workload for the duration of your pregnancy. Elevating your hands on a pillow while you sleep may help to ease your symptoms and can make for a more restful night.
In most cases, symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome that occur during pregnancy will subside after the baby is born; however, if the pain, numbness and tingling sensations you’re feeling do not go away on their own, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention. An orthopedist can recommend treatments such as the use of a splint to stabilize the hands and wrists or even an ibuprofen regimen to ease inflammation.