If you are experiencing discomfort, tingling or numb hands during pregnancy you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (always best to check with your GP). It can be a very common condition throughout and just after pregnancy, I am going to let you know what it is, why it happens and how you can deal with it.
WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the median nerve, which runs from your neck, through your shoulder to your fingers, is compressed within the carpal tunnel which is literally a tunnel between the ligaments and bones in the wrist area.
WHAT CAUSES CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME IN PREGNANCY?
Swelling from hormone induced fluid retention can reduce space in the wrist and the median nerve becomes compressed.
It can usually be experienced at any point from 30 weeks and in more than half of pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome cases it occurs in both hands. In most cases it will go away within 3 months after having your baby although the physical demands holding your little one(s) and breastfeeding can have on your body may make it feel worse before it feels better, but once swelling goes down so should the pain.
Tingling or numbness in part of the hand (thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers)
Throbbing or burning sensation in the hands, wrists, and fingers
Stiffness or cramping of hands, especially in the morning
Trouble gripping objects or performing tasks such as opening jars or buttoning a shirt
HOW TO RELIEVE CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME DURING PREGNANCY
You can either do this yourself by massaging firmly in a circular motion from your inner elbow to your wrist with your thumb and working your way back up again - or you can hire a professional therapist (like me!) Regular massage is a super way to boost circulation to help decrease/prevent the swelling and to help relieve the pain, lots of my clients have felt instant relief after a treatment.
Lavender, chamomile, ginger and juniper are all good essential oils for relieving pain. You can mix a couple of drops in about 10ml of carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, jojoba).
EXERCISE & STRETCHING
Warm up Make a firm fist with your hand, then stretch out your fingers as far apart as you can. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 4 times.
Prayer stretch Start with your palms together right in front of your chest. Lower your hands, keeping them together until you begin to feel a stretch. Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Traffic stop stretch Hold your arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing out as if you were stopping traffic. Using your other hand, pull back on your fingers as if trying to bend them back toward your forearm. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times.
If you feel like the carpal tunnel syndrome is really affecting your daily life then it is a good idea to check in with your Dr or see a physio to prevent any long last damage, which is unlikely with pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome but it's always good to have peace of mind!