We consider hand therapy to be one of the more important treatments we provide simply because we use our hands in virtually every walk of life. Fractures, sprains, arthritis, sporting and work-related injuries are common conditions we deal with, as are pregnancy-related hand conditions.
One of the specific issues affecting a lot of pregnant women is carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes great pain in the wrist and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can arise early in pregnancy but it is usually at its most common, and most painful, in the final trimester. During pregnancy, blood volume is increased to provide nourishment and support the growth of the baby. Plus, at this time, most of the blood vessels in the mother’s body become softer. Increased blood volume and softer blood vessels typically lead to above-normal fluid retention in the hands (and feet), and this can sometimes cause compression of the “Median Nerve” – this is the major nerve that travels through your wrist. Nighttime is when this compression is felt the most, usually in the forms of numbness, tingling or pain.
Carpal tunnel conditions often occur after birth as well but are not always linked to fluid retention. Postpartum carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by spending prolonged periods with a bent wrist while feeding or holding a baby. This can aggravate the median nerve, with similar symptoms to fluid-related carpal tunnel experienced during pregnancy.
It’s best not to leave this pain untreated. Carpal tunnel syndrome can make it difficult to master fine motor skills you take for granted, like writing or typing on a keyboard. Even things like doing up buttons on a baby’s clothes, changing a nappy, or feeding the baby can become frustrating and painful experiences. And, in extreme cases, the numbness often associated with carpal tunnel can also cause difficulty in holding objects.
If you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during or after pregnancy, we can help to relieve or even eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms. Like every condition we manage, the treatment will vary, and that is based on the specific cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome. That’s why we will do an initial assessment of your hand pain, as not all pregnancy-related hand and wrist pain is related to the carpal tunnel. Managing the swelling, wrist braces, soft tissue release, mobility and strengthening exercises might be some of the options we look at when treating the condition.
So, if you’re expecting or have just given birth…congratulations! But if you are experiencing pain in the hands and wrists, contact us and we’ll make this special time a less painful one for you.