Welcoming a new addition to your family is a cause for celebration, but the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms you first experienced during pregnancy may make it hard to enjoy bonding with your little bundle of joy. Although many women find that the numbness and pain in their hands, fingers, and wrist disappears when the swelling from their pregnancy subsides, others continue to struggle with symptoms that make it hard to complete everyday tasks.
Understanding the Relationship Between Pregnancy and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Swollen feet and ankles are a well-known symptom of pregnancy, but your entire body experiences changes as your baby grows. When the carpal tunnel in your wrist swells, it becomes harder for the nerves going to your fingers to send the right messages between your brain and muscles. This creates the numbness, burning, and tingling we associate with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms normally affect the fingers and wrist in the dominant hand but can travel up through your arm towards the shoulder. While repetitive motion doesn’t cause carpal tunnel syndrome, women with jobs that involving typing or other fine motor skills may find that their work exacerbates their symptoms.
Pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms tend to be the most bothersome in the third trimester, although they can occur at any time before your baby is born. They also tend to be more noticeable at night. When you lie down to go to bed, the fluids that accumulate in the lower part of your body during the day are redistributed to your extremities—resulting in additional pressure on your nerves and ligaments.
Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, so pregnant women who’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes are more likely to struggle with carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that interfere with their daily activities. Genetics can also play a role, so you may find that your mother, grandmother, or sisters have had similar struggles during their pregnancies.
The exact number of women who will experience carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy is unknown, but studies have shown it affects between 30 and 60 percent of all expectant mothers to some degree.
Getting the Correct Diagnosis with Carpal Tunnel
Although it can be painful, carpal tunnel syndrome poses no risk to mother or child. However, in pregnant women, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes overlap with preeclampsia. Characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system such as the kidneys or liver, preeclampsia is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Preeclampsia can cause severe complications, including premature birth or low birth weight and kidney, liver, heart, and brain problems in the mother. If preeclampsia is left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia that can be fatal to both mother and child.
If you think you might have carpal tunnel syndrome, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. Verifying the correct diagnosis is the safest course of action for both you and your baby.
Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel in Towson
Women with mild carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms may find that wearing wrist braces, stretching, taking frequent rest breaks, and using over-the-counter pain relievers is all that is needed to manage their condition. However, if you are still experiencing difficulty at your six-week postpartum checkup, your doctor may suggest that you consider surgical treatment.
Contact Our Towson Office Today for Carpal Tunnel Relief
Dr. Eric H. Williams provides ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release for new moms in search of a way to quickly and effectively address their carpal tunnel pain so they can get back to bonding with their children. To learn more, contact our Towson office.