Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel
(as opposed to the Injury kind)
If you look around the internet for information about Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel, you will find that pregnancy causes carpal tunnel just like Repetitive Strain causes carpal tunnel.
This is false.
Repetitive Strain causes injury and the body's response to injury, which can lead to
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Pregnancy DOES NOT cause Repetitive Strain Injury, injury, tendonitis, or nerve damage. Yet some women still experience
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms,
usually in the latter half of being pregnant.
What causes Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel?
First off, there is nothing wrong with your wrist, nor with your Carpal Tunnel.
You likely just have a TEMPORARY dynamic of extra fluid in your body from being pregnant. Nothing will get damaged, and it will go away after you give birth and your body gets back to 'normal'.
There are four possible scenarios for being pregnant and suffering from carpal tunnel symptoms like wrist pain and numbness and/or tingling in the fingers.
1. The Hormonal Effect of Being Pregnant.
One of the joys of being pregnant is the likelihood of retaining water. This can cause systemic swelling (all over the body), which includes neck-to-fingertips, the entire casing of the nerves that feed your hand.
So just from the extra fluid your body is holding, your nerve can get compressed at the neck, at the shoulder, down the arm, and at the carpal tunnel.
2. The Physical Effect of Being Pregnant.
With the extra weight in front and the postural effects of being pregnant, the shoulders roll forward. When the shoulders roll forward, the front of the neck shortens, and the pectoralis (chest) muscles shorten.
When those muscles shorten, they can compress the brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves that come out of your cervical (neck) spine and start heading down to the arm.
Compression at the neck and shoulder due to combating the weight of a pregnant belly and breasts can cause numbness and tingling in the fingers and hand.
3. Pre-existing Tendency for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you are a person that has a hand focused job like typing, hair styling, etc, your structure can be all ready to get symptoms from a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) dynamic, a
and a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome dynamic.
If you are pregnant with tingling/numbness in your fingers, and have a hand focused job, you definitely have......
4. A combination of All The Above.
Option #4 is the most likely scenario for suffering from Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel.
If you're pregnant you're definitely going to experience some amount of Retaining Fluid -and- Postural Compensation.
And if you use your hands at all, in the American culture, almost all of us have musculature of the forearm/hand/shoulder that is already too tight.
Add being pregnant to that, and it's a wonder that more women don't suffer from some amount of Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel.
If you still have Carpal Tunnel Symptoms 6-12 months after giving birth, it's because of #2 becomes the 'new normal' for your structure, and you have #3 too.
Just Retaining Extra Fluid can give you carpal tunnel symptoms.
Just Posture can give you carpal tunnel symptoms.
Having just the variable of pre-existing Tendonitis can certainly give you carpal tunnel symptoms.
Almost never does a single one of those variables show up in isolation.
What to do about Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel Symptoms.
How do you get rid of the numbness and/or tingling in your fingers if you have Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel?
1. Reduce your sodium (salt) intake.
The body loves exercise. Even when you are pregnant.
Movement is life.
It works your muscles, it works your system, it helps your kidneys rebalance your fluid balance.
It's a tough balance if it's a problem for you. You want to keep yourself and your baby well hydrated, but you want that fluid moving through you instead of getting stuck in your tissue.
3. Some doctors say that fluid retention in pregnancy is due to dehydration. Meaning, drink more water so your body isn't thinking it needs to hold on to what it already has (dehydration).
You'll have to try that one out if it sounds appropriate and gauge for yourself.
4. You can try the ice dipping as described in the Carpal Tunnel section of
How to Reduce Inflammation.
Even though Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel is a generally a systemic issue, forcing excess fluid out of your forearms will help take fluid compression off your nerve.
Maybe temporarily, maybe for the long term depending on your exact situation.
5. Open up your chest and neck.
Stretch and take the physical constraint off your nerve.
Stand in a doorway with your back against the door frame and stretch your arms back, opening up your chest.
Away from the doorway, roll your neck slowly back and to each side, so you feel the sides of the front of you your neck stretching.
What Not To Do.
Personally, there are several things I would never do if I had Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel.
Granted, I won't, cause I'm a guy;)
Still, I wouldn't get a
and certainly wouldn't get
Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery.
If your 'carpal tunnel' is caused by pregnancy, surgery isn't going to fix the problem. It might take the pain away, but it will eventually just leave you with problems from the actual surgery.
The same with corticosteroid shots. They won't fix anything, they won't make you less pregnant to reduce fluid retention, and the extra corticosteroid floating around your system is something I wouldn't suggest you subject your baby with, even if it's just a little bit.
You also probably don't want to subject your body or your baby to
Anti-inflammatory medicine or pain killers
if for no other reason than they won't decrease the reasons you have tingling/numbness.
Splints for Carpal Tunnel,
or wrist braces, may help if you have true carpal tunnel, but will probably do little against 'carpal tunnel' from fluid retention.
Ice dipping and exercise are my top recommendations.
Get the extra fluid out with ice dipping, stretch to open your chest and neck structures to counteract the forward tightening of a heavy belly, and exercise to help your body manage the extra fluid.
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